Louisville's journey to the 2010 College Cup had never weathered the flurry of goals or snow that accumulated in Cardinal Park on Saturday night.
U of L goalkeeper Andre Boudreaux, a redshirt junior from New Orleans, started the game with a .059 goals against average and hadn't allowed more than one goal in a single game all season. So with the Cards down 0-2 just 17 minutes into the match, head coach Ken Lolla's dream of a National Championship looked more like fantasy than destiny. Enter true freshman Aaron Horton.
With one minute left in the 2nd half, the back-and-forth match was tied at four goals apiece. 59 seconds, 58, 57...Horton, a forward from Ohio, gathered a pass 30 yards from goal. With the yellow ball attached to his feet, he weaved through the UCLA back line, zigging and zagging. One defender, two defender, three defender, four. With 52 seconds on the clock, Horton calmly tucked a shot in the net past a charging Bruins keeper to put the Cards in front, 5-4.
No big deal, just the most important goal in Louisville soccer history. A program that finished last in the Big East five years ago and had never advanced past the 2nd round of the NCAA's before.
Less than a minute later, the final whistle blew and Louisville's College Cup celebration commenced. 5,400 frozen fans rewarded with a last minute game winner in this season's Cardinal Park finale. A berth in the Final Four. Another milestone reached.
Of course, this came as no surprise to Ken Lolla; "Down two goals twice, to take the lead and then end up giving it back--to win the [game] shows a tremendous amount of character on on our part. I've gotta be honest with you, I'm not surprised, either. It's a group that has shown character all year long and our talk at halftime was exactly that--we're ok."
While Lolla exited the first half with his team down 2-3, he told his players to go out and play like they had all season. Meanwhile, the crowd was treated to Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin' over the PA system. Both messages were received.
"The whole year in any situation we...have the belief that we're going to come out on top, and nothing can faze us," said Louisville junior fullback Austin Berry. "I think we proved that tonight."
On Tuesday, the top-seeded Cards travel to California where they will play fourth-seeded North Carolina in this Friday's NCAA Semifinal round at UC-Santa Barbara's Harder Stadium. The winner will advance to face the Akron-Michigan NCAA Semifinal victor in the College Cup National Championship on Sunday night.
Louisville soccer. Don't stop believin'.
From uoflsports.com: Fans are invited to send off the top ranked Cardinals to the College Cup by attending the free event at the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 5:00 p.m. in the lobby. The first 500 kids at the event will get a free Louisville soccer t-shirt. The coaches and team will be available for autographs.