The University of Louisville soccer team routinely schedules difficult opponents to prepare for the postseason. When they scheduled powerhouse Maryland to open the season nobody realized it would be preview of a match to determine who would advance to the NCAA College Cup for an opportunity to compete for a national title.
Unfortunately for the Cards, it was a preview in more ways than one as Maryland (20-1-2), which defeated UofL (14-6-1) 3-0 in the season opener for both teams, defeated them 3-1 Saturday night in College Park.
In the previous two games Louisville was able to score quickly and establish an offensive posture throughout the first half; however they were given a dose of their own medicine by Maryland. Following two quick shots on goal, Maryland maintained offensive pressure throughout the first half before finally breaking through against UofL keeper Mike Mauro in the 33rd minute with a header off a free kick. UofL responded quickly when Zach Foxhoven took a pass from Dylan Mares and scored on a counterattack with five minutes left in the 1st half. The tie was short-lived as the Cards defense continued to struggle with set pieces, allowing a goal seconds before halftime on another header off a free kick.
Maryland finished the half leading 2-1, with a decisive advantage in shots (9-4) and corner kicks (7-0).
The second half was more of the same, with Mauro making several excellent saves to keep UofL within a goal. Maryland secured the final margin with a goal of one of those saves in the 57th minute, and was content to fall back into a defensive posture to preserve the win. They advanced to the College Cup this weekend in Hoover AL, joining Indiana, Creighton and semifinal opponent Georgetown.
UofL closes out the season with their second consecutive quarterfinal appearance, and will likely lose several top players. Big East defensive player Andrew Farrell is rumored to be a high pick in the MLS draft in January, and could join seniors Greg Cochrane, Paolo DelPiccolo, and Ryan Smith as significant contributors not returning next season
Photo: stock.xchang/Colin Bamford
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