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November 12, 2013

Women will host NCAAs, men await their fate

After Louisville's men and women's soccer teams lost in their conference tournaments, both were forced to wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

For the women, the word came Monday afternoon - they were in. For the men, they'll have to wait until the pairings are announced next Monday.

The Louisville women (12-5-1) will host Illinois State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday at 1 p.m. in Cardinal Park. The winner of Saturday's match will advance to play either No. 13 Michigan or Milwaukee.

The Cardinals won eight of their last nine regular-season league games before falling to Memphis 2-1 in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Nov. 3. Louisville, making its fourth NCAA Championship appearance overall, is led by seniors Charlyn Corral and Christine Exeter on offense, and seniors Rachel Melhado and Chelsea Hunter on defense.

Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes and the Cardinals have never faced Illinois State. The Redbirds are 14-6 overall but beat No. 11 Marquette 3-2 earlier this season. Louisville ost to Marquette 3-2 in double overtime in late September, their last loss before the recent 8-of-9 streak. Another similar foe was Illinois. Louisville lost to the Illini 5-4 in double overtime and Illinois State lost 5-1.

Tickets for Saturday night's first-round game will be $7 for adults, $5 for students (with ID) and youth. All tickets will go on sale through the UofL ticket office on Tuesday at 9 a.m., ET.

The Louisville men (11-4-3) won the regular-season AAC title and were on a roll since Sept. 13. After opening the season 2-2, the Cardinals won or tied 12 of their next 13 games before falling 1-0 against Rutgers in their first AAC Tournament game last Saturday night.

"The message in this one for our team is to take the lesson from it," Louisville coach Ken Lolla said. "We certainly created enough chances to win the game, but we didn't take care of them. In any game, especially the postseason, when you allow a team to hang around and keep it close, one chance can change the game, and that was evident tonight."

The Cardinals, ranked No. 14 in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 25, are expected to be picked to host one of the first-round NCAA games. They are one of the top-25 RPI teams as well.

UofL has shut out opponents eight times this season and has allowed only 0.78 goals per game. Goalkeeper Joachim Ball has allowed just 12 goals in 17 games, saving 45 shots on goal.

Sophomore forward Ricardo Valazco leads Louisville with seven goals and nine assists. Freshman Adrian Brody has three goals and eight assists.

The first round of the 2013 NCAA Championship is set for Thursday, Nov. 21. The second round is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 24. The first four rounds of the tournament will be played at campus sites, while the College Cup is set for Dec. 13 and 15 at PPL Park in Philadelphia.


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