The Louisville men's soccer season ended the same way it began, with a loss to Maryland at College Park. The #10 seed Cardinals finish the year with a 14-6-1 record while #2 seed Maryland (20-1-2) moves on to their 11th College Cup and 6th in the last 10 years.
The first half was all Maryland as the Terps began the first half pressuring Louisville goalkeeper Mike Mauro with two shots on goal in the game's opening moments and controlling possession throughout most of the first 45 minutes.
The Terps struck first when London Woodberry headed in a free kick in the 33rd minute for a 1-0 lead. Louisville answered six minutes later when Dylan Mares found junior forward Zach Foxhoven on a quick counterattack and Foxhoven beat Maryland's keeper with a well-placed shot from just inside the 18 yard box to tie it 1-1. It was Foxhoven's 5th goal on the year.
The backbreaking Maryland game-winner came with just 40 seconds left in the first half on yet another set piece, when Jack Pace headed a cross from the left wing that was tucked just inside the left post for a 2-1 lead. It was a brutal ending to a half that Maryland dominated and one could sense the momentum permanently shifting to the Terrapins in front of their home crowd.
Maryland finished the first half with a 9-4 shots advantage and a 7-0 corner kicks edge.
The start of the second half was more of the same for Maryland as they controlled the pace and created several scoring chances, forcing Mauro to make a couple huge saves for the Cards to hang on and stay within one goal of the Terps.
In the 57th minute, Maryland scored the dagger when Patrick Mullins toe-poked a loose ball into the net for a 3-1 margin after a brilliant diving block by Mauro on Taylor Kemp's shot just 10 yards out from goal. It was Mullins 16th goal on the year and likely his easiest.
Louisville didn't roll over after Maryland's third goal, but the Terrapins dropped eight guys back in the defensive third of the field and the Cards just couldn't find an opening.
Maryland ended the match with huge advantages in every facet of the game, including shots (16-5), shots on goal (8-1), and corners (9-1). It could've been much worse than 3-1 if not for Mauro's 5 saves.
It was a frustrating end to what was yet another great season. Back-to-back Elite Eight appearances after losing the quality of players that propelled Louisville to a near-perfect season and the National Championship game in 2010 is a testament to the foundation coach Ken Lolla has built virtually out of nowhere at U of L.
Looking ahead, junior center-back Andrew Farrell and seniors Greg Cochrane and Paulo DelPiccolo will all likely hear their names called in the 2013 MLS Draft, but sophomore midfielder Dylan Mares, freshman midfielder Marlon Hairston and junior keeper MIke Mauro will all return and should lead the Cardinals to another great year of soccer in 2013. Whether it's in the ACC or Big East, the competition will be elite as both conferences are stacked.