LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- U of L Soccer coach Ken Lolla discusses the Cards' NCAA first round match Thursday evening against Denver.
The Cardinals and Pioneers will open NCAA Championship on Thursday at 7 p.m., ET at Cardinal Park
The Louisville men's soccer team earned its seventh straight NCAA Championship invitation on Monday as an at-large selection and will host the University of Denver in a first round match on Thursday at 7 p.m., ET at Cardinal Park.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students/youth and can be purchased through the U of L Ticket Office at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The Cardinals enter the 2013 NCAA Championship at 11-4-3 overall after winning the American Athletic Conference regular season championship. In its last outing, Louisville was eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the American Conference Championship on Nov. 9 with a 1-0 loss to Rutgers. Denver enters the NCAA Championship at 13-3-3 overall after sweeping the Summit League regular season and tournament titles to earn an automatic bid. The winner of the Louisville-Denver game will advance to a second round matchup against No. 11 seed Michigan State on Sunday at 1 p.m., ET in East Lansing, Mich.
In eight seasons under the guidance of head coach Ken Lolla, the Cardinals have earned seven NCAA Championships bids and have made three straight Elite Eight appearances. Thursday's match will mark the fourth straight season and the sixth time in the last seven years Louisville has hosted an NCAA Championship match at Cardinal Park.
Denver, which is riding an eight-game winning streak and a 14-game unbeaten streak entering Thursday's match, will be making its third NCAA Championship appearance since 2008. The Pioneers, directed by seventh year head coach Bobby Muuss, earned an at-large berth in 2010 and an automatic bid in 2008 while falling in the first round in each of those seasons.
The Cardinals are led this season by American Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jimmy Ockford as well as First Team All-Conference players Ricardo Velazco and Marlon Hairston. Starting all 18 games along the backline for Louisville, Ockford has been a key defensive presence while also providing scoring punch connecting for four goals, including three game-winners. Velazco was one of the most versatile and explosive offensive players in the conference this fall leading the American in points (23), while ranking second in assists with nine and placing fourth in goals with seven. Hairston, who started all 18 games for the Cardinals playing both in the midfield and as a forward, scored three goals with two assists.
Senior Zach Bolden, the Summit League Offensive Player of the Year, leads the attack for the Pioneers with 10 goals and nine assists in 18 matches this fall. Senior Theodor Remman was selected as the league's Defensive Player of the Year, junior Oliver Brown was chosen as the Goalkeeper of the Year and Muuss was tabbed as the Coach of the Year as nine players overall earned All-Summit League honors.
The 2013 season is the final one for the Louisville men's soccer team at Cardinal Park. In 2014, the Cardinals will move into Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium, currently under construction across from Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and scheduled to open in August. To become a 2014 founding season ticket holder, click here for more information.
More info on the match is available here.
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