Saturday, December 1st - 5:00 ET
College Park, Maryland
NCAA Men’s Soccer Elite 8
Mr. Jurich gives us the gift that keeps on giving…an athletic program that is bursting at the seams with excellence. When you’re a Cards fan, watching Cardinal sports makes any time of the year feel like the “most wonderful time of the year”. Get ready for more joy, because your Cardinals take the field Saturday evening for Elite 8 action in College Park.
The 10th seeded Louisville Cardinals and no. 2 seed Maryland will face off at Ludwig Field in Maryland, with the winner heading to the Final Four in Hoover, Alabama on Dec.7. Indiana knocked off North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Friday, securing a spot in the Semifinals. Georgetown and San Diego vie for a spot in the Semifinals on Saturday at 1:00. Creighton and Connecticut fight for the remaining Final Four slot on Sunday.
Maryland’s Men’s Soccer Terrapins have been a tournament fixture in recent years, making 4 trips to Quarterfinals in the last 5 seasons. The Terps are a solid team that’ll be playing in front of one of the best fan bases in college soccer. Maryland will be drawing on the energy from a home crowd and the adrenaline that naturally comes with tourney action. Terrapins soccer is a high tempo/ high scoring affair. Louisville may have to get immediate control of Maryland’s energy and offense in order to secure a win. Although the Cards also enjoy a fast paced game- letting the Terps harness that energy usually proves to be dangerous. Cardinals Head Coach Ken Lolla says, “Playing at Maryland, the first 15 minutes are critical…they distance themselves in the first 15 minutes because of how much pressure and the excitement and the energy of the game.”
Louisville will absolutely have to apply pressure and have a strong defense against this Maryland team that has proved to be very good at scoring goals this season. Team leader for Terps in scoring is #15 Patrick Mullins. Mullins has 15 goals on the season (7 of them gamewinners). Terrapins teammate Schillo Tshuma has 8 goals, John Stertzer has 7- and seven other Maryland players have at least 2 goals each.
The Cardinals also have quite the arsenal, on both offense and defense. In fact, we have the Big East Defensive Player of the Year- Andrew Farrell. Farrell is also 1 of 15 college soccer players nominated for the 2012 MAC-Hermann Trophy. Fan votes combined with votes of Division 1 coaches will determine the winner of the MAC-Hermann Trophy. Voting ends December 4th. Other Louisville players awarded by the Big East this year are Paolo DelPiccolo, Greg Cochrane, Will Vitalis, Dylan Mares and Marlon Hairston. Hairston is Top Drawer Soccer’s National Player of the Week, after his goal helped the Cards get the win over Northwestern last week.
Expect to see this team shine in College Park. These Cards have a hustle that just doesn’t stop. They’ll fight for possession from one end of the pitch to the other, and will fight for the game until the final second. Plus, Louisville has a focus and intensity that, according to Coach Lolla, is improving every week. The Cardinals have played in the toughest conference in college soccer this year, and many on the team have tournament experience. Louisville also has experience with Maryland. UofL defeated the Terrapins in the 3rd round of the tourney last year. The Cards opened their 2012 season at Maryland, where they lost 3-0. But Louisville is a “much different team” than they were in the first game of the season, according to Coach Ken Lolla. Look for these two extremely talented teams to meet at 5:00 on Ludwig Field for what will likely be a high energy shootout .