Santa Barbara, Calif. - The top-ranked University of Louisville men's soccer team fell 1-0 to Akron in the NCAA College Cup title game in front of a crowd of 9,672 on Dec. 12 at Meredith Field in Harder Stadium. The loss is the first for the Cardinals this season, which entered the final match with a 20-0-3 overall record.
The Cardinals would have been the first team since 1989 to be an undefeated NCAA Champion (Santa Clara). The Cardinals' season ends with its first-ever 20-win campaign and first-ever NCAA Championship match appearance.
The lone goal of the contest started in the 79th minute with a corner kick by Akron (22-1-2) senior Anthony Ampalpitakwong. After Cardinals' goalkeeper Andre Boudreaux punched out a shot, sophomore Scott Caldwell collected the rebound and found the back of the net from 15-yards out into the top of the net to put the Zips ahead 1-0.
The Cardinals had a chance to knot the score with 1:15 on the clock as freshman Aaron Horton, whose late-game heroics helped Louisville to wins against UCLA and North Carolina, fired in a shot, but it was blocked by an Akron defender. "I just tried to take my chance again and put it in the net, but he made a good save off the line and that's the way it happens sometimes," said Horton.
After the two teams combined for nine shots in the first period, the final 20 minutes saw an increase in offensive action as 25 shots were taken. Akron out-shot Louisville overall 19-15 and held a 9-4 edge in corner kicks. The 19 shots allowed by the Cardinals equaled the most by any opponent this year (College of Charleston on Nov. 21).
Both Boudreaux and Zips' goalkeeper David Meves finished the game with six saves. The win marks Akron's first NCAA Division I championship in any sport.
"I want to start by saying how proud I am of our guys," said Head Coach Ken Lolla. "It was a tremendous run. Our guys have been resilient all season and set a new standard for our program, not just from the standpoint of wins and the achievements on the field, but by who we are and how we do things."
"The experience we had here has been great for our guys," said Lolla. "We will move forward. I am grateful for the experience because we will grow from it. We don't necessarily like it but experience In life is always useful if you take something away from it, move forward and make it better."
The crowd of 9,672 was the largest Championship match crowd since 2004, when 13,601 people saw Indiana defeat UC Santa Barbara on penalty kicks in Carson, Calif.
Boudreaux, senior midfielder Charlie Campbell, junior forward Colin Rolfe, and junior defender Austin Berry earned spots on the All-Tournament Team.