There aren't many ways to sum up Sunday's ACC Championship match other than to call it heartbreaking. Most of you know the story by now, but here it is in a nutshell:
Louisville controlled a good majority of the game and played with a 1-0 lead from the 13th minute until the very last three seconds of regulation. Ricardo Velazco's beautiful header off of great service from Andrew Brody (highlights here) put them ahead, and they held a lead together until Clemson equalized at the last second after a scramble on top of Louisville's box. The Tigers won it with a golden goal in the second overtime off of a corner kick.
All of the obvious thoughts apply here. Louisville should have won the game. They should be ACC champions. One minuscule lapse cost them the game, and it's the worst feeling to watch a big game slip away like that.
As is true each year, though, there's no time to dwell on what happened in the conference championship whether it was good or bad. That's because the NCAA tournament draw happened this afternoon, and Louisville got a great nod from the selection committee. Their second victory of the season over #1 Syracuse (highlights here) in the ACC semis may be easy to overlook, but it clearly went a long way in the eyes of the folks in charge at NCAA ground zero. Still, the possible opponents won't make things easy.
Louisville will be the 13th overall seed in this year's NCAA tournament, earning them a coveted first round bye and a second round home game. Louisville will face off against either St. Louis or Tulsa (who will meet on Thursday) on Sunday at Lynn Stadium. Further down the road, a likely trip to Maryland would likely await Louisville, something Ken Lolla and company are fairly familiar with.
The Cards' last tournament victory over Maryland was a 4-2 result in the third round of the 2011 tournament. The Cards lost 3-1 in College Park in the 2012 NCAA quarterfinals. As we know, Louisville's last meeting with Maryland was this season to open Lynn Stadium, where they also won. In other words, after all of the times that the Terps and the Cards have met on the pitch, this would just be your normal, run-of-the-mill soccer match. No real history at all.
Talking about Maryland is obviously getting ahead of ourselves, so while we're at it we should point out that if Louisville were to advance to a national quarterfinal, their opponent could very well be Indiana. Definitely no story lines there, though, so it was probably stupid to bring it up.
If speculating is your thing, the whole bracket can be found right here.
With all of that said, let's stay in the present for at least today and get the guys back to Louisville. Yes, they're still in North Carolina.
Despite mechanical and weather issues, the Cardinals are ready for the NCAA selection show at the airport in Raleigh. pic.twitter.com/vNXYYEAfGB— UofL Men's Soccer (@UofLmenssoccer) November 17, 2014
We'd be remiss if we didn't update the Goal of the Game standings, where we'll probably never have a winner because different Cardinals keep scoring good goals. Ricardo Velazco gets on the board in a big way this week for his impressive weekend in Cary, where he scored two goals. So much drama, so little time to settle it all.
T1. Tim Kubel - 2 GOTGs (Game 6 at UK, Game 9 at NC State)
T1. Ben Strong - 2 GOTGs (Game 11 at Notre Dame, Game 12 vs. FGCU)
T1. Ricardo Velazco - 2 GOTGs (ACC Semi vs. Syracuse, ACC Final vs. Clemson)
T1. Andrew Brody - 2 GOTGs (Game 1 vs. Maryland, Game 14 vs. Evansville)
T2. Daniel Keller - 1 GOTG (Game 7 vs. Pitt)
T2. Will Vitalis - 1 GOTG (Game 4 vs. Duke)
T2. Nolan Moore - 1 GOTG (Game 5 at B.C.)
T2. Jerry Ramirez - 1 GOTG (Game 13 vs. Syracuse)
T2. Ivan Gutierrez - 1 GOTG (ACC Quarters at UNC)
This NCAA tournament will be exciting for all kinds of reasons, both real and manufactured. Maybe it's fitting that the College Cup (Final Four) in December will take place at the very same stadium that the ACC Championship did. Louisville will begin its road back there this weekend, and we'll have a look at their second round opponent on Friday once we know who it is. Until then, keep it no sleep 'til Cary.