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Cedergren's persona transforming UK soccer

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Johan Cedergren is in his second season as Kentucky men's soccer head coach. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Johan Cedergren is in his second season as Kentucky men's soccer head coach. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
It took coach Johan Cedergren just 11 months to lead Kentucky men's soccer to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2003.

Entering his second year, the 38-year-old native of Solvesborg, Sweden, has his Wildcats primed for future success, despite a youthful roster that is feeling its way into collegiate soccer.

When Cedergren was announced as the third head coach in program history in December of 2011, he spoke eloquently about his goals and ambitions for the program.

He wanted to create a highly professional atmosphere, a die-hard commitment to recruiting the best, intense knowledge of the tactics and fundamentals of the game, and be on the cutting edge of the technological innovations in the sport.

Flash forward 21 months to three games into his second season and Cedergren has successfully transformed the UK program into one of the nation's rising units, while systematically checking program goals off his list.

A former All-Conference USA standout at Cincinnati, Cedergren built a dynamic and highly respected coaching staff with assistants David Casper and Erik Imler, director of operations Marco dos Santos and a former full-time assistant at Dartmouth currently serving as UK's volunteer assistant, Lucas Richardson.

He has transformed UK's video scouting and development system, created a heart-rate monitoring program and implemented innovative approaches to recovery from the physical nature of college soccer.

In his first season, Cedergren led Kentucky to the historic NCAA Tournament hosting berth, helped guide UK to school records in wins over top-25 foes and the highest final season RPI in school history (No. 25). He routinely credited UK's senior leadership, competitive edge and willingness to buy-in as a reason for UK's 2012 success, something he is looking for from his second-edition.

As time has progressed, Cedergren's fingerprints on the up-and-coming program are increasingly present.

With a roster of 19 underclassmen among its 25 players, just three games into the 2013 campaign, the youth movement's impact on the program and the development of the veterans under Cedergren's tutelage is apparent.

The evidence was on display during UK's 4-0 win over IPFW last Sunday, as UK shattered the program record for shots in a game (34), eclipsing the previous record set in 1994. Playing 13 newcomers in the game, including six freshmen starters, UK's offense was historically sensational. It included a 21-shot output alone in the second half that saw UK score all four of its goals and hit the post or crossbar three times.

With such a young roster, ups and downs, however, are to be expected. Six days after the record-setting win, the Cats lost a hard-fought 2-1 rematch with 2012 NCAA Tournament opponent Xavier.

But with dynamic talent in the likes of freshmen Napo Matsoso, Charlie Reymann, Alex Bumpus, Kaelon Fox and Jordan Wilson, combined with a vibrant sophomore class, upperclassmen leadership, and the infectious personalities of the coaching staff, the future for the UK soccer program is uniquely bright.

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