Lahoud sees potential upsets in College Cup
Michael Lahoud knows what it’s like to fly into the College Cup without any fanfare. He’s also been a part of established teams that have seen upstarts rain on the parade. The Chivas USA midfielder, who enjoyed a standout, four-year career at Wake Forest University, is looking forward to the NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cup, taking place on Friday and Sunday in Santa Barbara.
In four years at Wake Forest, Lahoud gained a ton of experience in the NCAA tournament. In his first year, 2005, Lahoud’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons were eliminated in the third round. After that, Wake made the semifinals in 2006, losing to UC Santa Barbara on penalties, won the championship in 2007, and fell again in the semifinals in 2008, dropping a 1-0 result to North Carolina.
This year, a veteran powerhouse in the University of Akron takes on unexpected semifinalists Michigan, while in the other Friday semifinal, North Carolina takes on Louisville. Lahoud is excited to see who emerges for Sunday’s final.
“I was very surprised [to see Michigan make the final four],” said Lahoud on Friday, after finishing a workout at The Home Depot Center. “It’s just like anything, get a foot in the door and anything can happen once you get to the final four.”
“I’ve witnessed it, especially my first year, we came out of nowhere and all the other teams had been there before and we had a great chance, but it didn’t work out. Other teams like Ohio State, my second year we were there, they were a half away from winning the national championship [that Wake Forest eventually won], and obviously North Carolina came out of the woodwork my final year. So I’ve seen it, for good and bad.”
While Wake Forest struggled in 2010 for the first time in several years, Lahoud expects his alma mater to quickly return to national prominence.
“I was a little disappointed to not have them have the season that I’ve been accustomed to them having,” said Lahoud. “But I think that Jay [Vidovich, Wake Forest head coach,] has done a phenomenal job, even before I got to Wake [Forest]. I know the expectations are still very high, and he holds the program to that standard regardless of what one year brings. I expect the Deacons to be back, so keep an eye out.”
Lahoud expects to watch the College Cup from the comfort of his apartment in Los Angeles, but other Chivas USA players will be making the trip to Santa Barbara, including Akron alums Ben Zemanski and Blair Gavin. Lahoud knows he has to give Zemanski a call.
“Things got heated when Wake Forest played Akron,” remembered Lahoud. “I was actually going to get in touch with him tonight. I didn’t know whether they were coming or not, because we got a little wager going on [about tonight’s Akron game].”
Friday’s College Cup matches be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, with Louisville facing North Carolina on ESPNU at 5:30 p.m. PT, and Akron taking on Michigan at 8:00 p.m. PT on ESPN2. Sunday’s championship match will be on ESPN2 at 1:00 p.m. PT.