The seventh ranked Louisville men’s soccer team defeated No. 21 UAB 4-3 in penalty kicks on Sunday night at West Campus Field in Birmingham. Both teams finished in a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation and then went straight to penalty kicks for exhibition play. The contest was played in front 1,751 fans.
“It was a very good first game for us against a great opponent,” said head coach Ken Lolla. “We dominated possession and showed good character after giving up an early first half goal. We played a solid second half and were able to score the equalizer. We as coaches decided to go to penalty kicks after finishing regulation tied. Joachim Ball played a great second half in goal and he was very solid during the penalty kicks. We have a lot to build on and we can continue to improve. Overall it was a great win over a quality opponent. “
The Blazers struck first at the 31:42 mark when Mladen Lemez took a direct free kick from 25 yards out. His low shot deflected off a Louisville defender and went into the side netting for the one-goal lead.
The score would stay the same until the 70:33 mark when the Cardinals scored the equalizer. The play began when newcomer Ade Akinsanya took a pass and dribbled up the sideline. He sent a low cross which UCLA transfer Zach Foxhoven one-timed into the back of the net from six yards out.
“Tonight was a great start to the season with Louisville,” said Foxhoven. “We had really been working he ball the whole game and then Ade sent me a great cross and I was able to find the net.”
Louisville had some chances in the end but was unable to find the net, ending in a 1-1 tie after 90 minutes. The Blazers took a 1-0 lead early in penalty kicks. But Alex Obbey and Brock Granger stepped up and made the next two kicks while Ball saved the third kick from UAB for a 2-2 tie. Will Vitalis scored on the next kick but the Blazers did as well. Andrew Farrell stepped up and made the final kick to give the Cards’ a 4-3 win.
“I had no idea we were going to go to penalty kicks,” said Farrell. “I have been practicing on them all last season and was ready when it was my turn. I was able to hit it to the goalkeeper’s left and score.”
Louisville outshot UAB 13-7, but UAB had a 6-5 edge in corner kicks.
“I thought we played very well tonight,” said junior defender Farrell. “I thought we handled the pressure very well and we were able to hold possession for most the match. Some of the newcomers were able to come in and make an impact on the game tonight. UAB is a great opponent and it was a good first win.”
The Cardinals will continue exhibition play on Friday, Aug. 17 as they face Wisconsin in Fort Wayne, Ind.