By Noah Allison–
To conclude the regular season, Ken Lolla’s men’s soccer team hosted the number two overall ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Despite the emotions of senior night and the last minute necessity of the win, Louisville lost 4-2. The Cards finished the regular season with a 6-8-3 overall record and look to the ACC Tournament where they will face Duke University in the first round.
“The expectations were that we’d get a win and put ourselves in a better spot heading into the ACC Tournament,” Lolla said.
Louisville gave up three goals in the first 16 minutes of the game to go down 3-0. The lead was insurmountable on that evening.
The loss concludes a regular season of missed chances and regrettable performances. With Louisville’s under .500 record, a deep run in the ACC Tournament is absolutely necessary to prevent the Cards from missing the NCAA Tournament. Something that Louisville soccer hasn’t done since Ken Lolla’s first season as head coach in 2005.
With urgency in the air, the senior night loss was less emotional than it was business like.
“It’s less about the seniors right now, certainly for them and their last game in Lynn we would love to have won, but right now its more about the team and the program and where we are and what we need,” Lolla said.
Louisville concludes the regular season without a victory on the road.
All three ties on the season came to ACC foes and six of Louisville’s eight losses were by one goal. The squad’s scrappiness yet inability to get results is partly due to their youth. Louisville’s top three goal scorers are underclassmen and all three goalkeepers on the roster are one or two year players.
Despite the results of the season this team is focused and ready to salvage what they can of it. And for the underclassmen, the fight is also about keeping their seniors’ careers alive.
“They’re like family, we spend every day with them so we just know them so well that we want to fight for them. I want to fight for every single player on that team and I am sure that they want to fight for me as well. We just need to keep going,” freshman Danny Reynolds said.
Heading into the ACC Tournament, the Cards have shown glimpses of greatness throughout the season. Now, Lolla looks to harness whatever greatness the Cardinals possess for one last push.
“I think when you look at games that we’ve played, whether its UNC, Wake Forest or even Clemson, we have shown that there is portions of the game that we are very good, and not only good, but capable of playing with and beating teams. What’s hurt us is giving up soft goals at bad parts of the game and that’s been the story of the season,” Lolla said.
There was one word that defined the outlook of Louisville soccer after the crushing end to the regular season, “believe.”
“Keep believing. Keep believing that we can do it,” senior Ben Strong said. “We are heading into the ACC Tournament and we have to keep our season alive so keep the belief and keep the energy every game.”
“I think they believe that we are good enough,” Lolla added. “It’s giving ourselves a chance to win.”
“We believe so much. Our season is not over yet,” Reynolds concluded. “Don’t you think that it’s over yet. We are going to fight and we are going to fight as hard as we can until it’s over. And I don’t think that’s anytime soon.”