Cardinals Look to Soar to New Heights in 2023
The University of Louisville men’s soccer team enters the 2023 season with high expectations after reaching the NCAA Tournament last year. Head coach John Michael Hayden has built a strong program in his first four seasons, guiding the Cardinals to a 34-29-7 record and three NCAA tourney appearances.
This year’s squad brings back several key contributors from the 2022 team that went 9-6-3 overall and 4-3-1 in the ACC. Leading the way is junior midfielder Sander Roed, who earned All-ACC honors after dishing out a team-best eight assists. Also returning is sophomore forward Elijah Amo, the team’s top scorer last season with six goals.
Joining the mix are several promising newcomers, including Army transfer Gage Guerra. The junior forward was the 2022 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year after netting 10 goals. His scoring punch should provide a boost to the Cardinal’s attack. Other impact transfers include defenders Mason Tatafu (Hofstra) and Xavi Wences (USC Upstate), who hope to strengthen the backline.
Louisville has a challenging schedule in 2023, facing nine NCAA Tournament teams from last season including defending champion Syracuse. However, Hayden believes his squad has the talent and experience to compete with the ACC’s best.
“We gained a lot of confidence making the tournament last year,” Hayden said. “With key veterans back and the new additions, I feel we can take another step forward this season. Our goal is to finish in the top half of the conference and earn a national seed for the NCAA Tournament.”
Home games versus Virginia Tech, NC State, Boston College and Wake Forest will be critical for the Cardinals to make noise in the ultra-competitive ACC. Louisville will also face local rivals Kentucky and Bellarmine in non-conference play.
With a talented blend of returners and new faces, Louisville seems poised to continue its upward trajectory. If the offense can click and the defense remains sturdy, this could be a special season for the Cardinals. I can see the Cardinals hosting the ACC Championship trophy and winning at least two games in the NCAA tournament.
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(Photo: Adam Creech | Louisville Athletics)