Tonight, Louisville (13-5-1) squares off with Northwestern (13-5-4) with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. We haven't seen Northwestern play this year, but that won't stop us from previewing the hell out of them for our loyal soccer Cloids. All seven of you.
First, the good news. Tonight's match is streaming live for free right here: LINK
Second, the better news. The game kicks off at 7pm at Cardinal Park. In Louisville. Where most of you live. Put on a scarf and enjoy yourself some soccer and hot cocoa. I hear the cocoa is nice at Cardinal Park. Also hear it's pretty easy to bring your own "cocoa" in a flask should you prefer your own brand.
Alright, let's look at what Northwestern does well, which starts with their defense.
The Wildcats' goalkeeper, sophomore Tyler Miller has posted 10 shutouts in 22 matches and leads a defense that gave up just 3 goals in Big Ten regular season games this year. That's not awful. The Wildcats also shut out Marquette 1-0 on the road last week, the first home loss and first shutout Marquette suffered all year. This won't be a 5-0 romp for Louisville.
On offense, Northwestern has a freshman--Joey Calistri--who's scored nine goals this year, four of them game-winners, including the lone goal scored at Marquette last weekend. Look for Big East defender of the year Andrew Farrell to handle the primary marking duties on Calistri when Northwestern's on the ball. Should be a good matchup there.
As the Courier-Journal already covered, tonight's match will be a homecoming for three Northwestern players: junior Lepe Seetane* (Trinity), Kyle Schickel (St. Xavier), and junior Layth Masri (Collegiate) all have soccer roots in Louisville and have played with and against several players on U of L's roster. All three will see the field tonight, but look for Schickel, who is second on the team in shots on goal, to make the biggest impact tonight.
*Seetane's back-story is a good one, and I highly recommend reading this Chicago Tribune piece on him.
In addition to the familiarity in players, Louisville and Northwestern also share several common opponents this year:
|Northwestern Result||Opponent||Louisville Result|
|W, 2-1 (OT)||Kentucky||L, 1-0|
|T, 0-0 (2OT)||Wisconsin||W, 1-0|
|W, 1-0; W, 2-0||Ohio State||W, 4-0|
|W, 2-1||Notre Dame||W, 2-1|
|L, 2-0||DePaul||W, 3-0|
|T, 1-1 (2OT)||Indiana||T, 2-2 (2OT)|
|W, 1-0||Marquette||L, 2-1|
DePaul? Really, Northwestern?
Trends: Louisville is 10-2-1 at home; Northwestern 3-1-3 on the road and 0-1 vs. DePaul
RPI Rankings: Louisville #13; Northwestern #41
Bold Prediction: Kyle Shickel scores the first goal of the game for Northwestern
Score Prediction: 2-1 Louisville
Final Thoughts: As we mentioned in this space last week, defensive-minded teams typically have the advantage in tournaments and on paper, Northwestern looks to be one of the toughest defensive tests U of L will face this year. That said, this is a game Louisville shouldn't lose on their own turf. Also: Northwestern lost to DePaul. At home.