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Louisville Soccer Quarterly: Part 1

This year, we're splitting the Louisville soccer season into four pieces. The first quarter of the year (well, almost) is in the books.

Welcome to the first Louisville Soccer Quarterly, where we'll take a look back at where we were at the season preview and work our way through the first five games of the season. We'll do this three more times this season — four games at a time — before the Cards head into postseason play in November.

The results 

1. William and Mary, 2-1 W game story and highlights

Unsurprisingly, Andrew Brody found the net first for Louisville this season on a nice ball over the top from midfielder Ben Strong in the 22nd minute. William and Mary tied the game in the 40th minute, but freshman Tate Schmitt scored even closer to halftime with a screamer from just inside the 18-yard in the 43rd minute.

2. #8 Stanford, 0-1 L

Game story and highlights

We mentioned in this season's preview that Jordan Morris — of senior U.S. national team fame — stuck around at Stanford this season. Well, his 80th-minute goal was the difference against the Cardinal. Louisville did out-shoot Stanford, 8-5, and they had more than a couple good chances (see highlights). While the Cards certainly weren't pleased with a loss at home, there were certainly positive signs here for a young team that still has its best soccer ahead of it.

3. Stony Brook, 3-1 W

Game story and highlights

Stony Brook is certainly no Stanford, but Louisville looked confident and improved in this one. Tate Schmitt struck first in the 7th minute with a beauty of a turn at the top of the 18-yard box and a low strike that beat the keeper. His goal was followed by an even better one minutes later that came off a strong cross from freshman left back Danny Reynolds and a nice header from Strong. Schmitt assisted on the third Cardinal goal in the 71st minute, slipping a ball through to Reynolds, who sent a nifty chip over the head of the keeper.

4. #15 Kentucky, 2-0 W

Game story and highlights

The 'Cats have gotten light years better since head coach Johan Cedergren took over as the head coach, but that progress wasn't put on display at Lynn Stadium. Louisville dominated the game, beating Kentucky 17-2 in shots and not allowing the guys from Lexington to get one on net. For the Cards' sake, Tate Schmitt (get used to this) kicked off the scoring in the 26th minute with a ball that rattled off the far post and trickled into the net. Maryland transfer Daniel Johnson struck less than two minutes later with a nice finish off of an assist from Schmitt.

5. @ Syracuse, 1-1 T

Game story

Daniel Johnson's second goal of the season was the lone tally for Louisville as the Cards scratched out a point in their first conference game. On the road against a good, physical Syracuse team, this is a good result. Louisville won both games against a top-ten Orange squad last season, and there's probably a decent chance that there will be more postseason soccer ahead for these two.

What we've learned 

— Perhaps most importantly, we know the general shape Ken Lolla will likely utilize this season (a familiar-looking 4-2-3-1 or something close) and the starting XI that he'll likely entrust to it. We also learned I'm not the world's greatest prognosticator, as I whiffed on the starting goalkeeper and one other. Here's a look at the lineup (with the exception of some positional shuffling) Lolla has used most:

— There aren't a ton of surprises here (my preseason prediction mistakes are listed below), but the attacking battery of Johnson, Strong, Brody and Schmitt is potent and will only get better as the newcomers (Johnson and Schmitt) get more and more comfortable playing with Brody and Strong. We knew that the two veterans of this group were almost sure-fire bets to have an impact again this season, and they've responded with a goal apiece so far.

— Sophomore keeper Nick Jeffs has been the man in goal, and he's done well through five games. He hasn't allowed more than one goal in a match yet this season and helped earn one shutout so far. That makes for a good average, and while it's certainly a product of good defending, he's had plenty to do with it himself.

— The only other whiff on the starting lineup in the season preview was redshirt freshman center back Johnathan Wright, who's started next to Michael DeGraffenreidt. He could easily follow the footsteps of former Cardinal center back Daniel Keller, who parlayed a redshirt year into a five-year college career that ended with him being selected in the MLS SuperDraft. Like Keller, Wright's even from Indiana.

— One thing I knew after chatting with coach Lolla was that freshman forward Tate Schmitt was going to have a major impact this season. The Real Salt Lake academy product hasn't wasted time, leading Louisville in goals (3) and assists (2) on the young season. You could say the same for Daniel Johnson and Danny Reynolds, who have made their presence known early with three goals combined.

What's next

6. 9/15 (today) vs. St. Louis

7. 9/18 vs. Virginia Tech

8. 9/22 vs. Memphis

9. 9/25 vs. N.C. State

Home games continue to abound for Louisville, which can only help as the Cards get into more ACC play and face a familiar, tough opponent in St. Louis. The Billikens won't soon forget the 2-1 loss they suffered at the hands of Louisville in last year's NCAA Tournament.

If Lolla's squad continues on the momentum they've started to build, they're more than capable of rattling off four straight victories. That would help tremendously, as a good amount of tough matches lie ahead in the second half of the season.