Blog written by Doug Paccione
This Saturday the University of Louisville men's soccer team returns to the field for the first time since November. The team is excited as the players look forward to hosting pro franchise Indy Eleven, which will begin its inaugural season in the North American Soccer League in April. With a 7:30 p.m., ET kickoff at Cardinal Park, the match features many storylines. Here are just a few reasons to check out this preseason friendly:
1. DelPiccolo and Mares Return to the Ville: A homecoming of sorts will occur on the pitch Saturday. Former Louisville soccer players Paolo DelPiccolo and Dylan Mares will suit up for Indy Eleven as the team looks to piece together a roster for the upcoming season. DelPiccolo, a four-year starter in the midfield for the Cardinals, is the school's career leader in assists (23) and was a member of the 2010 team that reached the NCAA title match. Mares spent three years at UofL, highlighted by his redshirt sophomore season in 2012 when he lead the team in goals (7) and total points (20), before finishing his collegiate career at Indiana. "Playing with those guys was a great experience," said Louisville senior Daniel Keller. "It's going to be fun to be on the field with them again."
2. Louisville Coopers Looking to Make Some Noise: The Louisville Coopers, a local group established to celebrate the city's emerging soccer culture and advocate for a pro club here in the River City, will be on hand to support the Cardinals on Saturday night. In an effort to rival the Brickyard Battalion, Indy's fans who will also be attendance, the Coopers have planned a tailgate and march to Cardinal Park, with the hope of establishing the "I-65 Derby" between the two soccer towns. This will be the first match and public appearance for the group, so expect a spirited turn out.
3. Kicking It For a Great Cause: The game this Saturday is a charity match with the proceeds going to Family Scholar House. This organization focuses on support of single parent families, by providing assistance through education. Housing assistance, family support, and education services are all provided to the less fortunate by FSH. The proceeds from ticket sales of the game will go to Family Scholar House as well as donations of gently used children's books for a book drive.
4. A Couple of First Impressions to be Made: Louisville midfielders Ben Strong and Will Vitalis will be using the friendly to launch their return to the pitch for the first time in more than a year. Both players sat out in the fall and are looking forward to getting back on the field. A transfer from Virginia Tech who will compete in his senior year this fall, Strong spent his time in Blacksburg playing center-mid and stood as the primary free kick and corner taker for the Hokies. Vitalis, who will also be a senior, was Mr. Kentucky Soccer as a prep senior at South Oldham High and has tallied five goals and eight assists in his time with the Cardinals.
5. Looking Forward to Lynn: As the hype grows for the move, Louisville fans who come out Saturday will get to learn more about the future home of Louisville soccer. Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium will open in August as one of the premier soccer facilities collegiate soccer has to offer. The new venue will seat more than 5,300 and include many features for a truly unique fan experience. A preview of Lynn Stadium as well as season ticket information for the upcoming fall season will be available at the match, making the game a can't miss.
Saturday's match is set for a 7:30 p.m., ET kickoff at Cardinal Park. The game begins the spring campaign for Louisville, which includes fixtures vs. Lindsey Wilson, Akron and SIUE as well as a match against the Columbus Crew of the MLS.