For the second straight season, the Louisville men’s soccer team came up one win shy of a trip to the College Cup, soccer’s version of the Final Four. The fourth-seeded Cards and fifth-seeded Akron played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer before the Zips prevailed in the sudden death shootout, 4-3.
Friday night’s defeat dropped Louisville to 1-4 all-time in Elite 8 games, with three of those losses coming at home. A season ago when the Cardinals were also the No. 4 seed, they fell 2-0 to fifth-seeded Stanford at home in the Elite 8. The Cardinal went on to win the national title.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Akron is the same program which knocked Louisville off in the 2010 national championship match.
Despite Mo Thiaw air-mailing the first penalty kick of the sudden death shootout, Louisville briefly appeared to be on the verge of advancing. The Cards connected on consecutive tries, and U of L goalkeeper Will Meyer saved back-to-back shots by Akron. Zips keeper Ben Lundt then stepped up, blocking an attempt by Adrien Cabon in round four. After both teams netted their fifth attempts, Lundt saved a shot in the first extra round to set the stage for Akron’s Niko De Vera to end the match and send the Zips to Philadelphia.
Congrats to Ken Lolla and company on yet another great season. One of these days these guys are going to win a national title.