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Women's soccer delivers season's best performance, stays unbeaten

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The scorebook might say otherwise, but the Kentucky women's soccer team took a big step forward offensively on Friday night.

The Wildcats had scratched across two goals in each of their first two games, and they matched that total in their first game of the Tropical Smoothie Invitational. Don't let the identical final tally fool you; this was the best the Kentucky attack has looked in the young 2012 season.

"I definitely feel like we were very dangerous tonight," UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. "What I really liked is that we were creating through lots of passing."

Creating through passing is something the Wildcats hadn't done as Lipsitz would like for large chunks of the season's first 180 minutes. UK relied on set pieces to score three of their four goals in wins over Eastern Kentucky and Coastal Carolina. On this night, everything came in the flow of the offense.

Freshman Cara Ledman got the Cats on the board with a goal in the 14th minute, putting the ball past Spartan goalkeeper Jamie Simmons with assists from Caitlin Landis and Arin Gilliland. From there, the Greensboro defense would stiffen, much like it did in a road shutout of then-fifth-ranked Wake Forest, but UK was persistent.

Starting with about 20 minutes left in regulation, the Cats found their feet with a flurry of chances. At the encouragement of Lipsitz, UK kept the pressure on in spite of the risk.

"One bad pass and one mistake and it's one to one," Lipsitz said. "I just kept saying we've got to have the courage to play our style. I'm proud of the way we played."

They were rewarded when Natalie Horner scored her first goal of the season on a cross from Danielle Krohn, giving UK a comfortable 2-0 advantage with less than eight minutes to play.

The two goals the Wildcats scored doubled the amount the Spartans had allowed in their first three games. The one goal Greensboro had yielded came on a penalty kick in an overtime loss to Georgia.

"We knew it was going to be a test. Knowing that, we certainly had their attention all week in training and we trained well," Lipsitz said. "It's no coincidence that when you train well, you play well."

To beat a defense as good as they faced on Friday night, the Cats started at the back.

"(After last weekend's win over EKU) I mentioned we had great individuals in the back line but I didn't think that we were playing together the way we could," Lipsitz said. "Today was phenomenal. It started with our back line and our ability to possess the ball."

Playing twice in a weekend for the first time this season, UK will immediately shift its focus to a game against Southeast Missouri at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and, just as importantly, to rest and recovery. After playing 22 players in UK's first two games, Lipsitz opted for a shorter rotation when he recognized the 11 players on the field in the second half were playing with great rhythm. The key to surviving two games in less than 48 hours will be sustaining that rhythm.

"The key is to possess the ball," Lipsitz said. "If we come out Sunday and we're chasing the ball, we're going to feel this very quickly. If we're keeping the ball and kicking it around, we're going to be pretty happy with how we feel. When you're playing well and you're scoring goals, somehow nothing hurts."

Highlights and postgame with Lipsitz

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