Time flies, and we're already more than halfway through the soccer season. Louisville has plenty of work ahead if they're to get where they want to go this season, but the schedule is there to make up the ground that needs to be gained. It's time for the second installment of the Card Chronicle Louisville Soccer Quarterly (fancy sounding, huh?).
6. St. Louis, 2-3 L (OT)
This one was disappointing for Ken Lolla and his squad. The Billikens struck first in the 27th minute, and while the Cards answered early in the second half with Tim Kubel's first goal of the season on a penalty kick, they never led and fell in the first sudden-death overtime. Andrew Brody was the other goal-scorer for Louisville, finishing a nice header on good service from Danny Reynolds in the 89th minute to push the game to OT.
7. Virginia Tech, 1-1 T (2OT)
Card Chronicle was in the house for the ACC home opener, and the unfortunate trend of slow starts continued for Louisville. Still, the Cards did manage to fight their way to a point after Shane Campbell — who entered as a sub up top after being an outside back in 2014 — scored in the 75th minute. The draw was even more impressive after freshman Watterson Young was sent off with a highly questionable red card in the 60th minute. All things considered here, getting an ACC point was a positive result.
8. Memphis, 4-0 W
The score paints most of the picture, but Louisville played a complete game against the Tigers. Tate Schmitt's fourth goal of the season (more on that later) put the Cards up 1-0 at the halftime break. The breakout freshman scored again to kick off the second half, and Tim Kubel and Ben Strong followed with their second goals of the season. These highlights are worth your time.
9. N.C. State, 1-1 T (2OT)
In the positive trends department, Tate Schmitt scored again in this one. His was the only goal Louisville could muster as they fought to another ACC tie against a good N.C. State team. Coach Lolla pointed out that nearly every game in the ACC is a test, and some key guys for the Cards are learning that through experience right now. Chances are, it will pay off later in the season.
A glance at the standings
We know there's time for Louisville to make up ground, but they'll want to get started soon given where they sit now. Luckily, three of the ACC's top four teams rankings-wise — North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia — are in the Coastal Division. Furthermore, they've been able to get at least a point out of their first three conference games.
Notes and observations
- About this Tate Schmitt kid...
Yeah, he good.
- Preseason, I predicted that Frenchman Theo Jamilloux would be the starting keeper for the Cards this season and previously admitted that I was wrong. He has started the last three games for Louisville in goal. Preseason predictions age like fine wines, apparently.
Lolla has praised Jamilloux's energy and leadership ability as a goalkeeper, which is such an underestimated part of the position. This is particularly true since Louisville has welcomed two new faces (Johnathon Wright and Danny Reynolds) to the back four this season. The keeper's role in organizing the defense often goes unnoticed.
- German outside back Tim Kubel has started to hit his stride this season, scoring a pair of goals and assisting on three more in the past four games. If we're talking about pro potential on this team, he has to be at the top of the list with Andrew Brody and a couple of others.
- Ben Strong and Brody are second and third in points on the team, respectively, with a combined four goals and five assists. This comes as no surprise, as the midfield/attacking group was a fairly safe bet to be the strength of the team this season. Like the back four, this part of the starting XI has added new faces in Daniel Johnson and Schmitt this season. As we get into the second half of the season, look for more goals to start coming from this group in the big matches that are right around the corner. Speaking of which...
Coming up next
10. 9/29 (tonight) at Ohio State
11. 10/2 at No. 4 Virginia
12. 10/9 at No. 6 Clemson
13. 10/13 vs. UConn
To call this next stretch of games extremely important for all purposes would still be an understatement. For one, the first RPI rankings were released Monday, and while Louisville is still in fine shape for now at No. 32, it will play two teams in Virginia (No. 3 in RPI) and Clemson (No. 31) that are ahead of it. We know from prior tournaments that the RPI carries a lot of weight at the end of the season. If you're wondering how the conference as a whole is faring in the RPI, the top four teams in the first ranking are from the ACC (they're doing just fine).
As for ACC implications, it's pretty apparent how massive six road points in the conference would be given the above standings, but it's also important that Louisville at least weathers the storm and comes away with points in both matches.
Finally, the three road games that headline this "quarter" of the season are key for Ken Lolla's squad regardless of the conference implications. We said this a lot last year, but championships aren't won at home, so road tests are a great way to be tested ahead of time.