LOFTY EXPECTATONS AGAIN
After being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll last season, the University of Louisville men's soccer team makes another appearance in the top 10.
The Cardinals were picked No. 3 in the Big East Conference Red Division but were tabbed as the No. 7 team nationally in the NSCAA/Continental Tire preseason poll.
Louisville returns seven starters from a team that advanced to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Four of the five starters the Cardinals lost were selected in the first round of the MLS Super Draft.
"We graduate some very talented players and look at how they are doing right now, Austin Berry, Nick DeLeon, Colin Rolfe and Kenny (Walker), they are all doing great," U of L coach Ken Lolla said. "What it tells us about our program is that we are producing some pretty good guys.
"We think we are going to produce more. We have some really good guys, younger guys, but really talented but I expect them to continue to grow and find some success in their own right."
The Cardinals begin play with a preseason game on Sunday at UAB. The regular-season opener is slated for Aug, 26 at Maryland.
UCLA TRANSFER A MAJOR ADDITION
The Cardinals have a bunch of newcomers on the roster this season but maybe nobody is as important as UCLA transfer Zack Foxhoven.
The 6-foot-1 Foxhoven played two seasons at UCLA and started 10 games, playing in 31 total games, last season. He had two game-winning assists for the Bruins after also dishing out two assists as a freshman.
Foxhoven has been a member of the 2009 U-20 and U-18 National Team pool. He was also a member of the U-14 and U-15 National teams.
Lolla said he could have a "big impact," while Foxhoven said he's excited about getting onto the field with his new teammates.
"When we played Louisville last year here, I really took a liking to Louisville's style of play," he said. "It was a no-brainer when I went looking for a school."
A COMPETITION FOR GOALIE
Lolla called the battle to replace goalkeeper Andre Boudreaux a "really good competition," between several players.
Joachim Ball is a 6-foot-3 German transfer, who comes to Louisville after training with the Broussia Mongchengladbach team from Regionalliga West.
Ball has trained with the team as an amateur since 2008.
"He comes in with a lot of experience and is very mature back there," Lolla said.
But redshirt sophomore Zach Trop is a former star at Manual and battling for the job. He didn't see any action last year as a freshman.
"Zach Torp had a great spring in goal," Lolla said. "There's competition for that spot, and Zach has matured tremendously. "
FROSH GETTING SOME HIGH PRAISE
Lolla said he was excited about the freshmen as a group and said one that could see some early time is Marlon Hairston.
The midfielder/forward is from Jackson, Miss., and played one season at IMG Pendleton School in Florida. College Soccer News ranked him as the No. 104 player in the country, while he was No. 105 by ESPN.com.
"He came through Mississippi, and when we saw him play we said he'll be a pro," Lolla said. "Just how fast he will have impact, I don't know. It's always a transition for freshman right away."
As a junior, Hairston was a member of the U.S. Region III Olympic Development team and was invited to participate in a youth soccer academy in East London at the West Ham United Football Club.