The 10th-ranked University of Louisville men's soccer will open the regular season this evening on the road at No. 20 Virginia.
The meeting will be the first of many in the future as ACC mates. Virginia, a traditional power that has won six NCAA championships finished the preseason with a 1-0-1 record, defeating Radford and ending with a draw against Rutgers. The Cardinals completed the preseason with a 1-0-2 mark, claiming a victory over Lindsey Wilson and tied Michigan and Northwestern.
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After being the NCAA Runner-up in 2010, followed by two consecutive Elite Eight appearances, Louisville enters the 2013 campaign with high expectations. While there are many new faces on the Cardinals roster, the goal remains the same, reach the College Cup and win a national title.
"I think that the expectations not only within our own program, but I think people across the country expect us to be good year in and year out," said head coach Ken Lolla. "Looking at the recruiting class that we have and the transfers that we have, we should be. We expect that and I think it is appropriate that people talk about us as being one of the best teams in the country."
Lolla lost six starters, including three MLS Draft selections, from last season's NCAA Elite Eight squad, but has added the school's highest-rated recruiting class to go along with six talented transfers.
Senior midfielder Ade Akinsanya experienced last year's tournament run and believes this year's team can take it a step further.
"We definitely have high expectations for this team," Akinsanya said. "Last year we fell short. We wanted to get farther than what we did, but this year we are pushing - we want to do better and bigger things than what we've done before. I have high hopes for this team. As the season goes on, I can see only getting better and better."
Lolla credited his previous teams for helping the program reach this point, but is quick to say that there is still plenty of growth remaining.
"There's still so much to be done here," he said. "We are constantly casting our vision forward of what we still can become and there is still so much more within this program. The building of the stadium and our expectations of being better every day. We've talked to our players about that - that commitment to constantly be better, the commitment to accomplish and be more is apart of what we are about."
Speaking for his teammates, junior Daniel Keller said that celebrating the program's first national championship with the fans is among the goals for the team.
"We're excited to play in front of the fans here and bring a championship to Louisville."
Following tonight's game in Charlottesville, Va., the Cardinals will return home for a four game home stand, beginning with a September 4 match against Cleveland State.