There are plenty of reasons why the University of Louisville went 19-0-3 this year and entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1-ranked team, but one of the biggest is standout Colin Rolfe.
The junior forward from Canton, Mich., has earned significant accolades in his three years with the Cardinals. A Big East Rookie of the Year back in 2008, Rolfe followed up in his sophomore season with a 10-goal performance that earned him NSCAA First Team All-American honors.
This year has been more of the same, and then some, as Rolfe has played a crucial role in Louisville’s undefeated season and first-ever appearance in the NCAA College Cup. He was named one of 15 semifinalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Offensively, he has evolved into a provider as well as a goal-scorer, with seven assists in addition to his nine goals. And his contributions don’t stop there.
“He’s a force on the field, but he’s also been a great example for our guys,” Louisville head coach Ken Lolla said.
The NCAA tournament was always going to be a chance for Rolfe to shine, and he has not disappointed. In three games, he’s scored three times and assisted twice.
[inline_node:323385]But come Friday, the pressure will be even greater as Louisville takes on North Carolina in Santa Barbara, Calif. Players like Rolfe will really need to step up, as the Cardinals look to best a squad making a third straight appearance in the College Cup.
While Rolfe the creator plays an important part in securing victories, his defensive work from the forward position is also impressive. He doesn’t take a break when the opposing defense has the ball in Cardinals’ territory.
“He has a willingness to put teams and defenders under pressure,” Lolla said. “Even when he’s not winning a ball, he makes it easier for our defenders and midfielders. He’s been a very good leader from a standout of his work ethic every single day, how he approaches training as well as the matches.”
That development on the field has taken three years to craft, and Lolla mentions how Rolfe’s on-field success is a product of that work ethic.
“His most growth, quite honestly, has been as a person,” he said. “That’s not to say he didn’t have a good starting point, but I think he’s worked very hard on his habits – on discipline, doing things correctly on a regular basis. What he’s doing and his growth as a soccer player, that’s a product of his changes personally in his life in creating really good habits every single day.”
That growth continues to pay off, and if Rolfe can leave his mark against North Carolina it could lead to the Cardinals’ first-ever national championship.