When Will Vitalis scored the game-winning goal for Louisville Sunday at Cardinal Park, it capped an unlikely turn of events. For Vitalis, a Louisville native, it was his first career goal for the Cardinals. It could not have come at a bigger moment, finding the back of the net to lift the Cards to a 3-2 win over Central Arkansas in the 90th minute of play.
More unlikely than his goal was the fact that Louisville and Central Arkansas were tied at 2-2 going into that final moment. In fact, the Southland Conference squad from Conway, Arkansas, led the nationally-ranked Cardinals for much of the game.
Louisville is finding life at the top to be a tough road. After opening the season with two impressive wins over second-ranked UCLA and 24th-ranked Wake Forest, the Cardinals have struggled in two of their last three games. Ken Lolla’s bunch is learning how to react to the target on their backs, and teams are gunning for the reigning national runners-up.
While Louisville is getting every team’s best effort as they battle to get back to the national championship game, Lolla is getting a pleasant surprise. His squad is finding leadership through numerous players so far this season.
After Central Arkansas went up 1-0 in the 11th minute Sunday, Chase Rodgers connected less than two minutes later to even things up at 1-1. It was the first career goal as a Cardinal for Rodgers as well. In fact, seven different Cardinals have scored so far in the first five games of the season. Three of those seven are seeing the pitch for the first time as Cardinals this season.
When All-American forward Colin Rolfe went down in a collision with Central Arkansas goalkeeper Amir Pasic just three minutes in on Sunday, it could have spelled doom for many teams. Rolfe returned to the game, but didn’t appear to be at full strength, then went down with an injury again later. Instead, Louisville fought back from a one-goal deficit twice, taking the lead for the first time in the final minute.
Following a dominant win over UCLA to open the season, the road hasn’t been as smooth. Nevertheless, the Cards are 4-1-0 on the year heading into Saturday’s home contest against Butler. While it may not be easy, Lolla is hoping his team shows its road-tested experience down the stretch.
Category: U of L Soccer Report