THE OPENING KICK:
Cleveland State will travel to a nationally ranked foe to open the campaign under its first-year head coach.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Louisville won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament last season and earned the No. 4 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament. The Cards return seven starters and 17 letterwinners and enter this season under the direction of first-year head coach John Michael Hayden. Louisville has advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament five times in the last nine seasons and has made the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the last 12 seasons.
Cleveland State is 5-5-0 in its last 10 season openers … While the Vikings lost last year's season opener at Northwestern, 3-0, CSU has not lost back-to-back season openers since 2010-11 … CSU has not tied a match in its season opener since 2005 vs. Canisius … This will be the first time that CSU has opened against a nationally ranked side since it began the 2011 campaign at Akron.
AGAINST THIS OPPONENT:
Cleveland State is 2-2-0 all-time against Louisville … This will be the first meeting since 2013, a 2-0 Cardinal win … This will be the fourth time in five meetings that the sides have met in a season opener.
LAST TIME OUT:
Cleveland State played a trio of exhibition matches in the preseason, one of which was shortened due to poor weather. The Vikings faced St. Bonaventure, Notre Dame (Ohio) and Saint Francis (Pa.).
LEADING THE CHARGE:
Cleveland State will be under the direction of first-year head coach Sinisa Ubiparipovic in 2019. Ubiparipovic, who attended high school and college in Northeast Ohio, was elevated after previously serving as the program's top assistant. He appeared in over 200 professional soccer matches, including an even 100 in the Major League Soccer (MLS) ranks with New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact.
- The last six Cleveland State head coaches combined to post a 5-0-1 record in their first game as the Vikings' head coach
- Vlad Jandric and Thomas M'Barek were both selected All-Horizon League Second Team in 2018
- It was the second straight season that Jandric earned all-conference honors
- Cleveland State returns 17 student-athletes from last year's roster, 16 of which competed in a match
- Six Vikings return that started at least 10 matches last season, with five of those six competing in at least 14 of the squad's 15 fixtures in 2018
- CSU has eight newcomers on the roster, four true freshmen and four transfers
- Thomas M'Barek was the only Viking to start all 15 matches last season
- Gabriel Pewu and Jannis Schmidt were the other returning Vikings to play in all 15 fixtures in 2018
- Cleveland State is facing at least one Big Ten opponent for the third straight year and an ACC foe for the fifth time in six seasons
- The Vikings will face four of the top 40 programs from last season's final RPI, including two of the top five
- Cleveland State has earned a top-four seed in the HL Tournament seven times since the league went to a six-team format, which is the highest such figure among its league peers
- CSU has come from behind to earn a result at least once in 13 consecutive seasons and has achieved the feat on the road in eight straight seasons
- Cleveland State won consecutive matches at Ohio State and at Pittsburgh last season, the first time since 1984 the Vikings won back-to-back matches against teams currently in a Power Five conference
- Cleveland State's win at Ohio State last season was its first victory over the Buckeyes since 1996 (though the sides have not played every year since then)
- With a 2-0 win at Ohio State last year, Cleveland State has now shut out a Power Five side in three of the past four seasons and six of the past nine
- The Vikings twice rallied from deficits to claim a 4-3 win at Pitt, scoring the winning goal with under six minutes remaining
- Forty three of Cleveland State's last 61 goals have come in the second half. In fact, 16 of those goals have taken place in the 77th minute or later
- Gabriel Pewu had six goals and an assist in the final 11 matches last season
- Vlad Jandric had a hat trick in last year's 3-1 win over UIC, the first by a Viking since 2013
- The Vikings were only outshot once in Horizon League play last season
- Among the 75 starts made by Vikings on defense or in goal last season: 31 starts were made by true freshman or redshirt freshman, 40 starts were made by sophomores with two starts by a junior and two by a senior
- Ryan Kolonick led all CSU freshmen with 11 starting assignments last season
- Thomas M'Barek was named Academic All-Horizon League in 2018
- Noah Pio has joined the Viking coaching staff as a student assistant after playing for CSU the past three seasons