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Men's soccer returns to conference action looking to bounce back

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Riggs netted his team-leading seventh goal in Wednesday's contest against the Hoosiers. (Michael Reaves, UK Athletics) Riggs netted his team-leading seventh goal in Wednesday's contest against the Hoosiers. (Michael Reaves, UK Athletics)
Sometimes you need to fail to realize where you need to improve and build on for the future. The University of Kentucky men's soccer suffered a 4-1 setback against the nationally ranked Indiana Hoosiers on Wednesday at the UK Soccer Complex.

The loss snapped UK's five-game unbeaten streak and evened its record at 5-5-1 on the year. The Wildcats now turn their focus toward the rest of the season where they hit the road for three consecutive Conference USA matchups.

The Hoosiers showed why they are a top-15 team on Wednesday but the Wildcats know they can't dwell on the loss and are aware they have bigger goals to worry about than a non-conference loss. The Cats will take what they learned from Wednesday's contest as they continue with the rest of their schedule in effort to make the postseason conference tournament.

"The result is disappointing but honestly anything we could have done in this game would help us," junior forward Tyler Riggs said. "It doesn't hurt us by losing because it was a game we weren't supposed to win, but all that matters is conference so we have seven games to turn it around."

When Kentucky is on their game, head coach Johan Cedergren believes his squad can play with anyone in the country. The Cats have shown their fight against nationally ranked foes St. John's, Northwestern and Charlotte, while also topping No. 18 Louisville.

However, the Hoosiers presented another challenge for UK. Indiana showed why they are a powerhouse and gave the Wildcats a sense of where they are as a team and what they need to improve on.

"I think it's great to be able to have a team like Indiana come in, play under the lights on this field," Cedergren said. "We played okay but I think Indiana was kind enough to show what it takes to be a top-10 team in the country."

IU attempted just five shots on goal on Wednesday, with four finding the back of the net. The Hoosiers set themselves up with great opportunities and made life very difficult on UK junior goal keeper Jack Van Arsdale.

Moving forward, Kentucky can't afford to make the same mistakes against C-USA teams like SMU, UAB and Tulsa. Cedergren knows his back four must be sharper and will work with them in training this week.

Offensively, Indiana looked very solid and used precise touch passing to set attackers up in great positions for goal opportunities. The Wildcats can go to the film room and take away what the Hoosiers did offensively and learn from it.

"Some of their ball movement and one-touch play was phenomenal," Cedergren said. "That's what we try to do in practice and tell them you are not going to beat a Division I team dribbling. You've got to play and move, play and move. We are pretty close but we are not quite there yet."

The big thing to take away from Wednesday's outcome is how can the Wildcats bounce back. The Cats have proved it once already that they can overcome adversity after beginning the year 1-4 and reeling off that five-game unbeaten streak.

The Cats' next opponent is SMU on Saturday, Oct. 6 and begins a stretch of three straight road contests that also features UAB (Oct. 13) and Marshall (Oct. 17). The SMU match will be a good test for the Wildcats and will be a chance for UK to respond after the beating they took from the Hoosiers.

Cedergren and the team is very confident it can respond based off early struggles in the season and the ability to succeed as of late.

"I'm very confident with this team," Riggs said. "We have made a lot of strides this year, starting out rough, 1-4 and bouncing back with a five-game unbeaten streak. I'm feeling confident that this group of guys can get it done."

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