Cherif Dieye runs downfield against Akron on December 1st, 2017. Despite a defensive match, the Cards would come up short in Penalty Kicks, and conclude the 2017 season. Photo by Seth Spalding, River City Cards
cards season concludes in elite eight
The Akron Zips, one of the more surprising teams of the year, brought an 18-3-1 record into Lynn Stadium Friday night, which includes a 12 game winning streak and 9-3-0 record against top 25 teams. UofL bested Colgate in their 3rd round matchup while Akron edged Wisconsin by a tally of 3-2 in their previous matchup. It was a tough game, but the Zips bested Louisville in Sudden Victory.
Akron opened up on the front foot of the match, recording a shot that was barely off target within 90 seconds of kickoff. They held most of the opening possession, and looked like they came to play. The most promising chance for either team in the first period came in the 9th minute when Stuart Holthusen for the Zips got the ball on a breakaway, but missed narrowly.
Thiaw got solid header saved off an Adrien Cabon cross from the left wing in the 18th minute, only to be ruled offside.
The Cards were pertinacious in defense, with Zekri standing out on the left side. Cabon deserves a mention as well, his work rate on both offense and defense keep the team ticking. The first half had a few spells where the teams traded possession, but it was a case of bending but not breaking for both defenses. Akron looked stronger, but only recorded a couple shots, none on target. The Cards were quick to spring the counter. UofL got 7 shots off during the period, though it didn’t feel like it.
Where the second half was played pretty fast, it seemed more sedated in pace of play. Thiaw came off in the 58th minute, leaving Schmitt and his replacement Iziah Jennings up top, joined by Wilson on the left side.
Referee Landis Wiley issued the first caution in the 62nd minute to Cody Cochran after Portuguese national Manuel Cordeiro got by the Louisville native just beyond the midway line.
As the second half wore on, the game looked more and more destined for a sudden-death overtime decision, and that’s what the 3,179 souls on hand got. Thiaw nearly got a winner moments after the start, only to be taken down outside the Zips’ box, but Landis was unmoved.
Holthusen answered with a near goal himself, redirecting a cross off of the outside of the post. Akron was the classier side for the duration, it must be said. But the Cards back line was more than equal to the task. Akron was visibly growing frustrated, and the home side looked simply to repel the attack, with no time to go forward as the half wound down.
It was again the Cards nearly stealing a goal off the blocks, as a great individual run and effort by Cherif Dieye left alarm bells ringing for the visiting center backs. Alas, he was repelled. The Cards were not done though. After Dieye intercepted a headed pass, he charged down the right side unopposed, sending a ball into Thiaw, aslo repelled. They came alight though and pushed, hard. Meyer saved the game and season for the cards when Cordeiro got loose on the right side and charged up the field, and the defense mopped up the rebound, failing to counter however.
Kubel tackled Cordeiro again with under 4 minutes remaining to surrender a corner, which was nearly turned in by Cordeiro himelf, had it not been directed right at Meyer. UofL’s defense came into its own in seeing off what fight Akron had left as the half evaporated. They looked the superior side on the period for a change but this one was to be decided by penalties.
It was the cards to go first, and Thiaw blasted his effort just over the bar. Holthusen did not replicate the cards' error and finished to Meyers left.
Second for the Cards, Wilson slotted it beyond Lundt, who guessed correctly.
The crowd erupted as Meyer saved the Zips next effort. Hermann award finalist Tim Kubel hesitated on his run up, and snuck it by the goal minder who again, guessed correctly.
Meyer saved the third shot he faced, as the crowd roared even louder.
Cabon couldn't seal the affair as his shot to the right wasn't nestled into the corner far enough. Sopomore Sam Gainford stepped up and sent it past the wrong footed Meyer to knot it up at 2 apiece. Schmitt slung his shot into the right side to edge the hosts ahead, but he was answered by Moutinho.
It went to sudden death after the 5 rounds, so an unanswered score would yield a winner. Sawyer Edwards had his shot ripped wide, and Nico De Vera stepped up for a decisive score to send them to the College Cup. UofL finishes 13-3-4 on the year.