Welcome back to what's quickly becoming the best part of your Mondays, the Weekend Soccer Update. We're on a serious roll here, as #8 Louisville are now winners of four straight matches and are rolling towards the midway point of the regular season. On Friday, their 4-1 victory over Pitt kept the roll going in impressive fashion. The Panthers entered the match without a win in conference play and only two wins on the season, so it was to be expected that the Cards would overmatch them fairly significantly. In short, that's pretty much what happened. To the highlights!
As always, here's your all-encompassing and authoritative account of the match. Included are post-game comments from Ken Lolla, Ricardo Velazco and Shane Campbell.
As Lolla said post-game, creating pressure with and without the ball has always been a focus of Louisville's. No matter where you look, it's pretty apparent that they accomplished that on Friday. The Cardinals out-shot Pitt 19-7, and while the Panthers did find the back of the net late, Louisville keeper Joachim Ball only faced three shots on goal. Given the Cards' four goals and the fact that the Pitt keeper still made four saves, Louisville did what they set out to do against a lesser opponent and dominated.
Penn State transfer Shane Campbell struck first in the 14th minute with a well-struck ball that curled to the back post from the right side of the penalty area and found the net. Should someone in the Pitt defense have dealt with it well before it ever got near the goal? Probably. That doesn't take anything away from how perfectly Campbell drove the ball into the area for his first goal in a Louisville jersey.
Speaking of Louisville jerseys, the all-black kit for the Cardinals is quite possibly the best uniform in Louisville soccer history. Those things should probably (without question) be worn for every single game.
Back to the action, where Ricardo Velazco struck for his first of two goals on the evening and his third of the season in the 18th minute. It came in a bit of a scramble in the box after a free kick was blasted through the Pitt wall, but the finish deserves plenty of credit. So does Ben Strong's delivery back into the box that resulted in his second assist of the season. In a hurry, it's easy to not get on top of the ball and airmail the goal, but being the composed striker that he is, Velazco calmly deposited the ball in the top corner to give Louisville a 2-0 lead at the half.
Velazco's composure was put on display again at the outset of the second half when he took a penalty after being tripped up just inside the 18-yard box in the 48th minute. There was nothing the Pitt goalkeeper could have done about the goal short of standing on the right post, and it doesn't get much better from the penalty spot than what Velazco did to give Louisville a 3-0 advantage.
At last, we've arrived at the winner of the creatively-named "Most Fun Goal of the Match Award" that was just born today and will be awarded for the rest of the season. Yes, we'll keep standings, obviously. Rewind your highlight videos to 3:06, and let's take a look at the beauty that was Daniel Keller's goal in the 50th minute that put Louisville ahead 4-0.
Of course, this goal doesn't happen without the lovely service from Campbell, who we've already mentioned once today. He "had himself a day" as they say, with a goal and an assist on the night. From there, the Louisville skipper takes over with the grace of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat combined with the touch of the great Ronaldinho and a pinch of Karate Kid. It was Keller's first goal of the season, and what a goal it was. A slow-mo version should probably be added to the pre-game hype video.
That brings us to our official Card Chronicle Most Fun Goal of the Match Award standings. Selections from all of the previous games this season will be made this week and added next Monday. This kind of thing can't be rushed. For now, the senior captain sits alone atop the table.
1. Daniel Keller - 1 MFGOTM (9/26 vs. Pitt)
Up next for Louisville is another home match tomorrow night at the spectacular Lynn Stadium against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Ohio State program has fallen on some harder times as of late, and the Bucks will come to Louisville with a 2-3-3 record. They've scored just one goal in three straight losses (at Penn State, vs. Akron, at Dayton) leading up to tomorrow night's match. Still, Louisville will look for a better result against the Buckeyes after a 0-0 draw last season in Columbus.
After another impressive attendance of 4,016 on Friday night, the attendance average this season at Lynn is now 5,193. Make your Tuesday night something to look forward to by getting your tickets and heading out to see some soccer tomorrow evening. It should be a beautiful night for the beautiful game.