Soccer fans at Cardinal Park have been getting their money’s worth recently. The Louisville Cardinals have played in three overtime games in the last 10 days, going 1-1-1 during that span. Playing the extra sessions has been exhausting, but the Cards have the stamina to handle such tasks.
One of the first things I noticed at the team’s practices is the emphasis on nutrition and fitness. Staff members go to unprecedented lengths to monitor each player’s health and fitness.
That emphasis comes in handy when you play three overtime games in such a short span. The Cards have looked stronger and faster in the second half of nearly every game, and they tend to wear down opponents. That was evident at Indiana last week, when Louisville fought back from two goals down in the second half to even the match, then scored the game-winner in overtime. In nearly every game, Louisville has created more scoring chances in the second half than their opponents.
In the second half against Syracuse last week, Louisville players looked as energetic as they had in the opening minutes. Syracuse had not played a game since the previous Saturday, but had several players go down late due to injuries and fatigue.
“I thought they were tired at the end, but we just didn’t have that push at the end to get a goal,” coach Ken Lolla said. “I give our guys a lot of credit because they still got after it.”
The Cards and Orange finished 0-0, but Louisville outshot their opponent 31-23.
Playing three consecutive overtime games expects to pay dividends down the stretch.
“Everything we do goes back to how we practice. We make the most of our time together on the practice field, and we know we won’t face an opponent in better condition than us,” Lolla said.
The Cards return to Cardinal Park on Tuesday, Oct. 18, to face the University of South Florida at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Category: U of L Soccer Report