Nov. 3, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Needing either a win or a tie to clinch outright possession of the inaugural American Athletic Conference regular season championship, the 11th-ranked Louisville men's soccer team accomplished that goal on Sunday afternoon at Cardinal Park earning a scoreless draw against USF in the regular season finale for both squads.
Winning its third conference championship in five seasons, Louisville (11-3-3/5-1-2) will host the only first round game of the 2013 American Athletic Conference Championship on Friday at 2 p.m., ET at Cardinal Park when No. 8 seed Rutgers takes on No. 9 seed Cincinnati. A day later, the top-seeded Cardinals will play the winner of the first rounder in a quarterfinal game on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Other quarterfinal matches in the conference tournament include No. 7 SMU at No. 2 Connecticut, No. 6 Memphis at No. 3 UCF and No. 5 USF at No. 4 Temple. The semifinals and final of the American Athletic Conference Championship are set for Nov. 15-17 at Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas, in Frisco, Texas.
"I feel proud and I'm excited for the guys. A lot of times, you set goals with the faith that if you put in the effort and if you make the commitment that you can reach them," said Louisville head coach Ken Lolla. "Our guys put in a lot of effort and they made a lot of sacrifices. And if you ask every single one of our guys about the commitment, they'd tell you it was worth it. I'm proud of them. I think today was indicative of the effort and grind that we have to put in sometimes to get there. It's been a good journey and now we start on the next one."
Sunday marked the second straight overtime match for the Cardinals and their fourth this season. Defensively, senior goalkeeper Mike Mauro (Bristol, Conn.) matched a career-high with five saves in his first start of the season to earn his seventh career shutout. Overall, it was the Cardinals' eighth shutout of the season and the first since the 3-0 win at Indiana on Oct. 15.
The two teams finished with 11 shots each on Sunday, including five shots on goal for each squad. The Cardinals had an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Sunday was the final regular season soccer match to be played at Cardinal Park as the Cardinals are scheduled to open the new Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium in August 2014. Prior to Sunday's finale, Louisville also honored its five seniors - Ade Akinsanya (Sacramento, Calif.), Zack Foxhoven (Littleton, Colo.), Mauro, Derek McCaffrey (Gronton, Mass.) and Jimmy Ockford (Yardley, Pa.).
Through 17 regular season matches, sophomore Ricardo Velazco is the Cardinals' leader in goals (seven), assists (nine), points (23) and shots (61). The nine assists for Velazco rank tied for third on Louisville's single season leaderboard matching the totals of Jack Palmquist (1982) and Aaron Clapham. Stuart Langrish holds the single season record for assists with 11 set in in 2000.