The Louisville men's soccer team is the No. 12 overall seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, securing a first round bye and home field advantage for their second round game. The Cardinals were ranked No. 1 overall this preseason after returning the majority of their starting roster that suffered just one loss all of last year, to Akron in the National Championship game. But then--and stop me if you've heard this before--injuries happened.
Head Coach Ken Lolla lost playmaker Dylan Mares, the 2010 Big East Freshman of the Year and a 2011 Preseason All-American (via Soccer America), to a knee injury just before the season began. Additionally, Louisville's other top scoring threat, Colin Rolfe, a 2010 Hermann Award Finalist (NCAA soccer's Heisman), was hobbled by minor injuries all year and still wasn't back to 100% during last week's conference tournament. Although the senior forward appeared in every Louisville game this season, starting 18 of 20, Rolfe finished just eighth in total minutes played, a telling stat.
Add the somewhat unexpected loss of dangerman sub Aaron Horton to Major League Soccer over the Summer, then factor in one of the toughest schedules in the country and you can understand why the preseason No. 1 Cardinals side enter the tournament a disappointing 12-6-2, after losing 0-1 to Connecticut in the Big East Tournament semifinals.
Louisville, who is 6-2-2 at home this season, will open the tournament at 7 pm this Sunday at Cardinal Park, facing the winner of Loyola-Marymount (7-11-2) at Bradley (14-5-2). Immediately after the announcement, Coach Lolla said he was happy with the draw, as did several of his players on Twitter including Greg Cochrane, Kegan Harkenrider & Mares.
The Big East placed seven teams in the tournament, the most of any conference, while the ACC has six teams represented. Louisville posted a 3-5-1 record against the 48-team field and went 1-0-1 against squads in their 12-team pod.
The overall top seed is North Carolina, followed by Creighton (2), Connecticut (3) and Boston College (4). Other seeded Big East teams in the tournament are South Florida (7) and St. John's (9). West Virginia, Rutgers and Providence also made the field. You can see the full bracket here.
Ticket information for Sunday's second round game, provided via uoflsports.com:
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youths, students and senior citizens. Tickets will go on sale at 9:00 a.m. at the athletic ticket offices. You can also call the athletic ticket office at 852-5151 for tickets. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $4.