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Men's soccer overcomes adversity in Cedergren's inaugural season

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In a game that featured multiple missed opportunities from both squads, Xavier was finally able to find the back of the net in the 86th minute to give the Musketeers a 1-0 victory over Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA men's soccer tournament at the UK Soccer Complex on Thursday evening.

Goalkeeper Jack Van Arsdale kept UK within striking distance all night as the junior recorded three saves to keep the match scoreless for the majority of the evening. The Wildcats had a chance in the opening minutes of the game on a cross into the box to Bryan Celis but the ball was misplayed.

As the contest neared its end, UK was in full-on attack mode and threatened a bit. But in the end it was the Xavier offense, which had only been shut out twice all season, that delivered final blow.

"It was a tough loss for us of course," head coach Johan Cedergren said. "We don't want to go out this early in the tournament but at the same time look at where we are coming from. It's been 2003 since we have been dancing last time. Unfortunately there can only be one winner, they scored a great goal. You have to give Xavier and their coaching staff a lot of credit, I thought they played well."

The Wildcats' season came to an end Thursday night but it must be said how great of a year the 2012 season was. The season began with UK dropping four of its first five games and with a first-year head coach in place and it would have been easy for the Cats to lower their heads and play for themselves or just simply give up on the year.

That was far from what happened. Cedergren rallied the troops and the squad came together as a team against one of the toughest schedules in the entire country. Counting the game against Xavier, UK played a program record 10 ranked foes throughout the year. That didn't stop the team from battling as the Cats strung an 8-2-1 stretch together, making a run at the NCAA Tournament and earning a bid to host the first round.

The Cats hung tough all season and even picked up a huge win on the road against their nemesis Louisville. What a season it was for the Wildcats, who did not get much preseason praise from the media and coaches around the country.

"I couldn't be any prouder of the guys," Cedergren said. "In the end, to me you have to look at what we did this season. Played an unbelievable schedule, got some great wins and to be back in the NCAA Tournament I'm really proud of the guys for how well they pushed."

Cedergren gives much of the season's credit to his two senior captains, Cameron Wilder and Matt Lodge. Cedergren believes UK's success starts with them and the way they bought in right away to his coaching philosophies. The seniors may not be on the field the next time Cedergren leads his team to the postseason, but they work they did in their lone season playing for him is the foundation for the success that will surely follow.

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