The Louisville Cardinal

Men’s soccer remains competitive despite influx of youth

By Jordan Shim-

After the men’s soccer team’s 1-1 draw with Xavier, they preserved their undefeated record this preseason. Despite the loss of key players to graduation, the team looks set to have another successful fall campaign.

Here are a few things to forward to this upcoming season.

Youth potential

One of the issues at the end of last season was the loss of players through the center of the pitch. Stefan Cleveland, Romilio Hernandez and Michael DeGraffenreidt all left the team, leaving a void in the middle.

The team, however, have not skipped a beat with Cody Cochran, Liam Bennett and Jake Gelnovatch stepping into the starting eleven. Restocking the squad with youth will build a strong core to move the team forward.

“What has to happen sometimes is you have to cut down the big trees,” coach Ken Lolla said. “The big trees have to leave so the saplings can grow. Guys like Stef, Mike and Romilio leave so all these guys with massive ability can develop, and that’s what this spring is all about. There’s only one way to do it, and that is to put them in those situations. They’re receiving a lot of light right now.”

The squad still has experienced players who can provide leadership for the youth stepping into the starting XI.

“Tim (Kubel) is already the leader for us,” Lolla said. “Tate (Schmitt) has a strong presence on the field and so does Mo. Cody, who is now playing as a center back, is having more voice. Our keepers are growing into that as well.”

Consistency up front

The only loss on the attacking end was Daniel Johnson, who was drafted by the Chicago Fire in the MLS SuperDraft. His dribbling and speed are a big loss, but the team has depth in that position with Grant Hollkamp and Cherif Dieye. Schmitt also has experience playing wide.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal