ACC logos emblazoned the new pitch. Louisville, if it’s somehow slipped you mind, is now a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But it was not a conference game. However, truth be told, the tussle with Maryland as the foe was as appropriate an encounter as there could or should have been for the inaugural fall athletic contest for the Cardinals in their new league.
Because, understand, but for the fact that the Terrapins are now a member of the Big Ten Conference, that logo would have read AAC. And, all the folderol surrounding this splendid facility notwithstanding, it would not have been quite as celebratory a moment.
An upcoming league slate which would have included South Florida and UConn, though Top 25 they might be, would not have matched competing against Duke, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Clemson. All of which are also top-ranked national powers.
Because . . .?
Well, you know, because why.
Because being in the ACC is Big Time. And it wouldn’t have happened, but for Maryland’s surprise — and very costly, at least in the short run — move to the Big Ten. Which opened the spot, now filled by The University of Louisville Fighting Juriches.
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The Cards prevailed 1 nil.
And, even though the Terps were national runners up last season, and were ranked #2 before their opening defeat along Cardinal Corridor, the game was almost, given the momentous circumstances of the evening’s event, beside the point.1
Louisville tallied in the 54th minute on a counter attack. Ricardo Velazco arched the ball into the 18 yard box from the right side. Andrew Brody headed it into the upper left corner of the net. It was Velazco’s 10th career assist, six of which, including Friday night’s, resulted in game winners.
The visitors dominated possession in the last 20 minutes of the game. But the Cards’ D and stellar goalkeeping by Joachim Bell saved the evening. Bell had 5 saves, none more important than a one-handed knock away on a Maryland corner kick in the 87th minute.
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One would have forgiven the Terps for some confusion at the outset. They might have thought they were playing a school from their new conference.
U of L took the field to the now perfunctory video board bombast, a rousing ovation, in snappy, new, surely imposed by Adidas unis.
Very Euro. Thick vertical stripes. Team name on the back, not the front. Stylin’.
Except that they were in Ohio State’s color scheme. Gray and red.2
So much for tradition.
That little dig nothwithstanding. I fell for the ploy. Stopping by the Cardinal Authentic shoppe on the way out to purchase my latest bit of U of L apparel. A, blush, gray and red soccer jersey that is perfect for jogging.
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There were 7,047 in attendance. Surely a record for a home U of L soccer game.
Festive it was. Kids playing soccer on the berm. Old friends renewing acquaintances along the concourse. Lines ten deep at the overrun concession stands.
What it wasn’t was focused on the game.
It reminded me of a minor league baseball game, during which, perhaps 20% of the crowd is locked into the athletic contest. While the rest . . .
I trust that future games, including the one with Duke’s Blue Devils on Saturday night 9/13, shall be more sparsely attended. But those there shall be more into the splendid soccer on the pitch.
— Seedy K