Ken Lolla and his top-ranked Louisville soccer team have advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's soccer tournament for the first time in program history. Their reward is playing Big Ten foe and NCAA Tournament veteran Ohio State University tonight at 7 EST at Cardinal Park.
While the undefeated Cardinals haven't allowed more than one goal at home all season, home field may not be as big an advantage as it appears on paper. Only 200 miles separate the two program's campuses and just this September, tOSU played Louisville to a 0-0 tie after two overtimes. The Buckeyes (11-5-3) would end up as the only men's soccer team to play Louisville (17-0-3) at Cardinal Park this season without leaving with a loss.
Ohio State's seniors, including Louisville
traitor native Sam Scales, have played in the NCAA Tournament all four years as a Buckeyes, including the National Championship game their freshman year.
The Cardinal Park crowd is expected to reach 6,000+. While that may not affect Ohio State--a squad that played in front of a record 7,200+ fans in 2-2 tie against Akron in Columbus, OH earlier this season--it should provide a significant boost for the Cards.
“(The crowd) played a significant impact on the way we played,” junior midfielder Nick DeLeon said. “When you are tired and hear and know you have that support behind you, it just gives you that extra will to go on. It was pretty special.”
The next chapter will shortly begin on what's already been a fairy tale season in Louisville.
Where: Cardinal Park
Kickoff: 7pm EST
Weather: Cold; @ 40 degrees at kickoff
Prediction: The good guys win, 2-1
--You can watch the game online here: http://www.ncaa.com/allaccess/index.html?media=212551 by clicking on live events tab and then the video camera icon next to Louisville - Ohio State
--Follow Ohio State Men's Soccer updates on Twitter here: OhioState_MSOC
--Follow Louisville Men's Soccer updates on Twitter here: UofLmenssoccer
--Ohio State holds a 7-4-2 all-time record against Louisville
--Through Sunday's afternoon matches, the Big Ten holds a 7-3 record in the tournament, with Michigan and Ohio State still alive
--The Big East is 4-6 in the tournament, but Louisville is the only Big East team still alive.