As UK was boarding the bus Wednesday afternoon, something was different about the squad. The Cats were traveling without leading goal scorer Tyler Riggs, who stayed back in Lexington due to a hamstring injury.
To fill the void, junior Dylan Asher started up front for the first time this season alongside Matt Lodge to complete the Wildcats' 4-4-2 formation. Asher, an all-conference defender his freshman and sophomore seasons, had been called upon to take the field at a position he was not all too familiar with. At first, the junior felt a little strange playing up front but as the game got going he just got into the rhythm of the match.
"It was definitely different, but once the pace of the game got into it I picked it up pretty quickly," Asher said. "Playing with Lodge up there with me was a big plus. It's pretty easy when you've got a senior captain up there right beside you."
Not only was this Asher's first game this season playing the forward position, but he had played in 44 career contests without scoring a goal.
In the 55th minute of the contest, Lodge received a ball from the midfield, who played it into Asher, before the Richardson, Texas native made a great touch around the Marshall defender to net the lone goal of the night.
Although Asher has been mostly a defensive mind throughout his career at UK, he does admit he has been training on the offensive side and it was a matter of time before he would find the back of the net.
"It feels great, it's been a long time coming," Asher said. "I've been working hard in training and it's good for it to finally pay off."
With the win, the Cats have improved their road record to 5-2 on the year. Their presence on the road has taken a drastic turn from a year ago where UK was 0-7-1 away from their home pitch. UK is now 6-2-1 in their last nine contests and look to be well on their way to the conference tournament after beginning the season 1-4.
The Wildcats have gone through an injury-plagued stretch recently but have demonstrated the common phrase of "next man up." Kentucky has shown off its depth over the last few weeks as various players have gone down with injuries. Head coach Johan Cedergren is ecstatic the way his team has stepped up to the challenge, especially Asher.
"Of course we miss Tyler, he is always around when there is a scoring chance but you have to give Dylan a lot of credit," Cedergren said. "The good thing about our squad is we have enough depth to take care of one or two or three injuries. Yes, our leading goal scorer is out but if Riggs is out this weekend I feel confident with Dylan up top."
Road wins never come easy and picking them up in conference is an even taller task. The Wildcats have gotten through a difficult stretch of games where they traveled to SMU, UAB and tonight at Marshall, earning two victories in the process.
UK has four games remaining on its schedule, three of which the Cats will host back in Lexington.
"We are very happy, it's two road games in a row now in conference we have gotten wins," Cedergren said. "That's not easy in a tough conference like the Conference USA, so I feel like we are going in the right direction and this result says that."