Football - The UK defense continued to improve, limiting Missouri to 273 yards of total offense which was the lowest number of yards UK has allowed all season. - The Wildcat defense also created a season-high three turnovers in the game, getting two interceptions and a fumble recovery. J.D. Harmon was impressive in the effort for Kentucky, earning a career-best seven tackles on top of the two interceptions.
Volleyball - Senior setter Christine Hartmann narrowly missed out on a triple-double with nine kills, 52 assists and 11 digs against Tennessee. She directed four players to 10 or more kills in the match including 19 on a .472 hitting clip from senior Ashley Frazier. - With 21 digs against UT, senior Stephanie Klefot moved into sole possession of fourth place on the SEC all-time career digs leader list. - In the victory over Georgia, UK saw Hartmann lead the defensive effort with a career-high 19 digs. She passed out 58 assists and again found four players for 10 or more kills. - Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder led the defensive effort for the weekend with team-highs in blocks in both matches including matching a career-high eight in the victory against the Bulldogs. Women's soccer - UK's eight SEC wins marks the most conference wins for the Wildcats since the 1999 season. It ties a program record for most SEC wins in a season. - The Wildcats have shut out four of the last five opponents they have faced, as goalkeeper Kayla King has only allowed one goal in the last 422 minutes of action in the net. - UK finishes the season having six different freshmen score a goal, as the class accounted for more than 30 points on the season.
Men's soccer - Jack Van Arsdale notched his fourth shutout of the year and UK got splendid play from defenders Steven Perinovic, Jacob Kemper, Jacob Speed and Isak Krogstad in a win at No. 23 Tulsa. - UK has improved to 6-2 on the road in 2012, with the Wildcats tied for the second-most road wins in the NCAA entering the Saturday win.
Rifle - The No. 2 University of Kentucky rifle team defeated No. 15 Tennessee-Martin 4656 - 4577 Sunday in Barker Hall. - Freshman Connor Davis led the Wildcats with an aggregate score of 1170. - Junior Aaron Holsopple finished with a match high in smallbore, shooting a 582. Women's soccer - Senior Jessica Stiles finished the weekend 3-0 in singles play and 2-1 in doubles. Stiles' play left her in second for singles champion, one point off first. - Junior Khristina Blajkevitch capped off a perfect singles weekend with a 6-1, 6-1 win on Sunday.
Cross country - Cally Macumber achieved a feat no other University of Kentucky Wildcat had accomplished in 23 years when she won the SEC Cross Country Championship by a four-second margin with a time of 20:23.29 in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday. - The UK women placed fifth overall, while the men finished sixth. - Luis Orta was the first Wildcat to finish on the men's side in 24:10.83 over 8K. - Three Wildcats earned spots on the All-SEC teams by virtue of their performances at the Conference meet as Macumber and Oswald were named to the First Team, while Orta made the Second Team. - Macumber and Oswald each received All-SEC honors for the second time in their careers. Orta, a senior, reached All-Conference status for the third time.
Swimming and diving - The Kentucky men and women's swimming teams picked up their first wins of the season against Southern Illinois in a tri-meet. - Kentucky's men were led by sophomore Lucas Gerotto who picked up his second victory in the 100-butterfly (49.70) and took third in the 50-freestyle (21.15). The men also earned their first relay victory of the season in the 4x100-freestyle as Chris Lott, Will Heidler, Gerotto and Chris Thomas combined for the winning time of 3:05.62.The women pulled out two wins with senior Mandy Myers taking home first in the 100-buttefly with a time of 55.53. Sophomore Christina Bechtel earned her first win of the season as well with a win in the 200-butterfly with the winning time of 66.10.
Monday, Oct. 29 Women's golf at Alamo Invitational (San Antonio, Texas)
Tuesday, Oct. 30 Women's golf at Alamo Invitational (San Antonio, Texas)
Wednesday, Oct. 31 Women's soccer vs. Missouri (Orange Beach, Ala.) - 8:30 p.m. Men's soccer hosts UCF - 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 1 Men's basketball hosts Northwood - 7:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 Volleyball hosts Ole Miss - 7:00 p.m. Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Swimming and diving hosts Auburn - 2:00 p.m. Women's soccer SEC Tournament Semifinals (Orange Beach, Ala.) - TBA
Saturday, Nov. 3 Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Rifle at North Carolina State Football hosts Vanderbilt - 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4 Volleyball hosts South Carolina - 1:30 p.m. Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Men's soccer hosts South Carolina - 1:00 p.m. Women's soccer SEC Tournament Championship (Orange Beach, Ala.) • TBA
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK NOMINEE R-Jr., D, Steven Perinovic (Delafield, Wis.) NOTES: Junior defender Steven Perinovic had a dynamic game in leading Kentucky to a shutout win at No. 23 Tulsa on Saturday night ... UK's vocal and physical leader at center back, Perinovic led UK to the shutout vs. the Golden Hurricane, a team ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in goals scored ... Perinovic was a force on Saturday, with his ability to play the ball in the air thwarting scoring chances for the Golden Hurricane throughout the game ... UK finished with four saves in the win, its fifth shutout of the year ... A native of Delafield, Wis., Perinovic has been a major weapon for UK's defensive unit in 2012, with UK owning a 1.29 goals-against average ... On the year, Perinovic has started all 15 games at center back with one goal.
TEAM NOTES The Kentucky men's soccer team continued its blistering pace over the last 11 games, picking up its third road top-25 win of the year, beating No. 23 Tulsa, 2-0 on Saturday night at the Hurricane Soccer Complex. UK will return to action with a two-game week to wrap up the regular-season schedule, hosting UCF on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, before hosting South Carolina on senior day Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.
Kentucky (9-6-1, 4-1-1 Conference USA) pulled into second place in the C-USA standings with the dominating 2-0 result at Tulsa. The Wildcats have now won eight of their last 11 games after a 1-4 start to the season and own top-25 road wins at No. 18 Louisville, No. 25 UAB and No. 23 Tulsa.
UK got goals from seniors Matt Lodge and Gabriel Conelian in the shutout win at Tulsa Saturday. Jack Van Arsdale notched his fourth shutout of the year and UK got splendid play from defenders Steven Perinovic, Jacob Kemper, Jacob Speed and Isak Krogstad. The shutout vs. Tulsa came against a team that entered the game ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in goals scored, with the Golden Hurricane leading the conference in nearly every offensive category.
UK has improved to 6-2 on the road in 2012, with the Wildcats tied for the second-most road wins in the NCAA entering the Saturday win.
UK has been paced by an explosive offensive attack in 2012, netting 1.94 goals per game and averaging 12.6 shots a contest. Defensively, UK has a 1.29 goals-against average, with Van Arsdale owning a 1.16 goals-against average with 41 saves. Freshman Callum Irving has also started three games in goal, with a 2.00 goals-against average, seven saves and a shutout.
The Wildcats have been led offensively by junior Tyler Riggs, who has seven goals and four assists in 14 games. Lodge, a native of Rossington, England, has seven goals and two assists, while senior Charley Pettys has added six goals and three assists. Conelian has four goals and three assists, with junior Dylan Asher adding four goals. Freshman Bryan Celis has a goal and three assists, with Kemper leading the club with five assists. Perinovic and Dustin Scibilia each have added a goal.
Kentucky now sits in second place in the league standings and entered the game on Saturday with the No. 13 strength of schedule in the nation and the No. 18 RPI in the NCAA. UK's win came against Tulsa, ranked No. 16 in the NCAA RPI. The Wildcats now sit just behind SMU in the C-USA regular-season title race, with UK's last 11 games pushing the Wildcats into the thick of the NCAA Tournament race.
Junior Dylan Asher has benefited from the new 4-4-2 formation scoring four goals in the last two games, including a hat trick last Sunday against FIU. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
If you were to rewind the clock back a month ago, it would have been crazy to say the University of Kentucky men's soccer team had a shot at a regular season Conference USA title. But now, the Wildcats currently sit in third place in the league at 3-1-1 with three games remaining on their schedule.
UK has come a long way since opening up the year at 1-4. The Cats are 7-2-1 since, including three consecutive victories.
According to head coach Johan Cedergren, a conference title hasn't been all that far-fetched for the squad. The first-year coach and his staff believed from day one that his team had the talent to compete with the top schools in the league.
"We had goals that were just within the squad and the staff and one of them was we could make a run for a conference title," Cedergren said. "That might be ridiculous to the outsiders after going either .500 or less in the last two years but we have a good enough squad that we can definitely go all the way."
This Saturday, The Wildcats will face a crucial road matchup against Tulsa (10-4-1, 4-1-1 C-USA), who will come into the match ranked 23rd in the country and are currently in second place in conference play.
Not only is this game important for the Cats' conference title hopes, but also for the NCAA officials when looking at the final seedings for the postseason tournament. UK has a RPI of 18 and would receive a major boost with either a road win or a draw against Tulsa, who is No. 16 on the RPI list.
Following the Tulsa contest, Kentucky will return home for its final two games of the regular season against UCF and South Carolina. There are still games to be played and a lot can happen as the season draws to a close.
"We are in a good spot right now but there are still three games to play and that's nine points and anything can happen," Cedergren said.
The Wildcats have gone through several changes in the offseason and throughout the year. The transformation of the program began with the hiring of Cedergren and things have taken off for the men's soccer program since.
To start the 2012 season, Cedergren implemented his preferred formations of 4-5-1 and 4-2-3-1. However, Cedergren and his staff decided to introduce the 4-4-2 formation a few games ago. It calls for two forwards up front, and the offense has taken off with the new look.
Junior Dylan Asher has started up front alongside senior Matt Lodge the last three games, due to an injury to Tyler Riggs, and the two have jelled immediately. Asher, who served as a defender during his first two-and-a-half years at UK, has scored four goals in the last two matches, including a hat trick in the Wildcats' 5-1 triumph over FIU last Sunday.
UK is loaded with depth at the forward position, which resulted in Cedergren using a formation that takes full advantage of his play-making athletes.
"I think it has definitely helped with Dylan Asher being a good forward," Cedergren said. "We have Dylan, we have Lodge, we have Riggs and we have Caleb (Richardson). So we have four good forwards and it made sense to play with two up front rather than one."
Kentucky scored three goals in the first half against FIU, which marked the first time the Cats have netted a goal in the first half in six contests. Statistically, UK has been a better second half team, outscoring its opponents 19-12 in the second half compared to just 10-8 in the first stanza.
The Wildcats are a patient bunch that likes to keep the ball on the ground and wait for the right opportunities to open up rather than forcing the issue and giving their opponents easy chances at the ball.
Although it may seem Kentucky typically gets off to slower starts, they are actually setting themselves up for a second-half push.
"I think it's a tactic of ours to wear a team down," Cedergren said. "If you are keeping the ball, moving the ball and not trying to go forward every single time, you won't score that many goals right away but you will wear a team down. That's why I think we have scored a lot more goals in the second half because teams get tired and we get a little more confident."
The Wildcats' final run at a conference title starts on Saturday at Tulsa. Cedergren is not foreign to the Golden Hurricane, as he saw them in action last season when he was on the Dartmouth coaching staff.
Tulsa presents a lineup with the most firepower in the conference. UT leads the league in goals scored (38), assists (30) and points (106). It is a team that likes to attack the ball and will be an even tougher test for UK with so much on the line.
"Just like the other teams, we watch three-to-five games and we look for tendencies and weaknesses," Cedergren said. "I think we have a pretty good idea of what to do Saturday so we feel good. They are a good team and have had a great season so far and there is a lot on the line after this game."
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 21:
Men's soccer: Dylan Asher
Junior Dylan Asher registered a prolific week in leading the Wildcats to two crucial Conference USA wins ... With UK leading scorer and starting forward Tyler Riggs out for both games due to injury, Asher - a two-time All-Conference USA defender - made his two first career starts at forward ... He finished with his first four career goals in the two games, with the eighth hat trick in UK history during a win over FIU ... During the 1-0 win at 10-win Marshall on Wednesday, Asher scored the game-winning goal in 54th minute, his first-career tally ... In the win against FIU, Asher had a career day for the Wildcats, notching goals in the third, 41st, and 57th minute to record the eighth hat trick in Kentucky soccer history ... His goals were dynamic during the week, including a diving header for the hat trick in the 57th frame vs. FIU ... The Richardson, Texas, native fired a total of four shots in the week, connecting at a 1.000 clip with all four finding nylon ... A two-time All-Conference USA selection, a preseason All-Conference USA honoree and a freshman All-American in 2010, Asher has played in 45 games with 43 starts in his career with four goals and three assists.
Volleyball: Whitney Billings
Junior Whitney Billings provided magnificent defensive play in guiding UK to a 1-1 weekend. Billings led the team in every statistical category this week in kills (4.17), hitting percentage (.367), digs (22) and blocks (8). She paced the Wildcats in both digs and kills in both matches this week including a five-block, 14-dig performance in a 3-0 win over LSU. She also provided an offensive spark with a team-high 16 kills on a blazing .481 hitting clip for her 23rd career double-double and the 10th of the season against the Tigers. She logged 32 serve-receive chances and did not commit a single error in that category. The win over LSU marked the 10th time this season the junior topped 10-or more digs and just the third time with five or more blocks. For the week she was well over her season averages in both digs (3.67 vs. 2.70) and blocks (1.33 vs. 0.87).
Football: Landon Foster
Foster was key for Kentucky in switching field position, launching six punts and pinning UGA inside its own 20-yard line three times. Foster averaged 44.5 yards per punt against the Bulldogs while also drilling a 53-yarder. He also did not have a touchback. Individually, Foster ranks fifth in the conference and 21st nationally in punting with a 43.1-yard average. He is third among true freshman punters in the nation and first in the conference in that category. As a team, Kentucky sits 20th in the nation and fifth in the Southeastern Conference in net punting at 39.95 yards per punt.
Women's soccer: Arin Gilliland
Sophomore Arin Gilliland continued her stellar season, capturing the game-winning goal vs. South Carolina on Friday night in a 1-0 defensive showcase and also scoring in Sunday's 2-1 come-from-behind win over Auburn. Gilliland has now scored a point in five of Kentucky's last six games, including scoring a goal in each of the last three games, with two game winners.
Women's soccer: Olivia Jester
Freshman Olivia Jester picked a perfect time to score her first-career goal, as the Cincinnati, Ohio native tallied the game-winning goal on Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 win over Auburn. Jester has played over 1,400 minutes this season and has started in every game this season. The goal was a header off an Alyssa Telang corner kick, and helped guide UK to its fourth-straight win.
Rifle: Henri Junghänel
Senior Henri Junghänel recorded a historic performance in Kentucky's record-breaking win over No. 4 Army. Contributing to Kentucky's 4716, a new school record, Junghänel bested the previous smallbore program high with a 592. The previous school record, held by Junghänel, was 590. Junghänel added a 594 in air rifle to bring his aggregate score to 1186, also a new program best. Two days earlier, Junghänel led the Wildcats to a 4676 - 4605 win over No. 10 Murray State. Junghänel recorded team highs in smallbore and air rifle, shooting a 587 in smallbore and 590 in air rifle. Through three matches, Junghänel leads the team in smallbore scoring average (589.5) and air rifles scoring average (591.7) on the year.
Women's soccer: Kayla King
After a weekend in which Kayla King recorded back-to-back shutouts, the Louisville, Ky., native backed it up with a 2-0-0 weekend in net, in which she made seven saves and also shutout South Carolina on Friday night. Until Auburn finally got a shot past the line, King went 322 minutes in the cage without allowing a goal. In addition, Auburn missed a PK while King was in net that would have given AU the 2-0 lead in the opening half of play.
Football - UK's rushing attack was solid against a tough UGA defense, posting a season-best 206 rushing yards on 43 carries. Jonathan George led the way with a career-high 87 yards on 12 carries, while Morgan Newton and Raymond Sanders had rushing touchdowns. Newton also threw a touchdown pass to Aaron Boyd, while starting quarterback Jalen Whitlow threw for 86 yards, rushed for 31 yards and caught a 33-yard pass. - Kentucky entered the game having played the toughest schedule in the nation, according to three of the computer rating used in the official BCS rankings. Georgia was Kentucky's fifth top-25 opponent this season. The Wildcats are using a young squad against the best teams in the nation, ranking top-five nationally in true freshmen played, and frosh (true freshmen and redshirt freshmen) played this season. Volleyball - Junior Whitney Billings led the way for the Wildcats with an average of 4.17 kills, 3.67 digs and 1.33 blocks per set for the week. She logged her 23rd career double-double with 16 kills and 14 digs against the Tigers. - Senior Ashley Frazier was named a Senior CLASS award finalist during the week. She is the first player in school history to advance to the final 10 seniors for the prestigious award. Women's soccer - Sophomore Arin Gilliland has scored a point in five of the last six games for UK, including scoring a goal in each of the last three games, with two game-winners. - Goalkeeper Kayla King recorded her third-straight shutout Friday night in a 1-0 win before allowing her only goal of the weekend to Auburn, snapping her 322-minute scoreless streak in net. King now stands at 11-2-0 in the net. - The win Sunday over AU was UK's fourth-straight SEC win. It is the first time since 2006 that UK has won four-straight SEC games. Men's soccer - Kentucky (8-6-1, Conference USA 3-1-1) posted a 6-1 goal margin in its two games, as the Wildcats got the first career goal from veteran Dylan Asher against Marshall, as well as Asher's hat-trick, and Kentucky's eighth all-time, vs. FIU. Senior midfielder Charley Pettys netted a goal vs. FIU off of a handball in the box allowed him to take the penalty kick.
Rifle - Kentucky set numerous program records in Sunday's win over Army, including total aggregate score (4716), total smallbore score (2348), individual aggregate score and individual smallbore score. - Senior Henri Junghanel recorded a historic Sunday as an individual, posting a program-best 1186 total score and another program-record 592 in smallbore.
Women's tennis - Freshmen Nadia Ravita and Kirsten Lewis had impressive outings in West Lafayette, Ind. The duo went 2-1 in doubles competition. Lewis advanced to the round of 32 while Ravita won two matches to make it to the quarterfinals of singles play.
Men's tennis - The men's tennis team was in Memphis, Tenn., this weekend competing in the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Indoor Championships. - Jomby and freshman Kevin Lai have earned a spot in the doubles championship match on Monday at 10:00 a.m. ET. Lai and Jomby are the No. 2 seed in the draw, and will face No. 1 overall seeded John Collins and Mikelis Lieibtis of Tennessee. Men's golf - The UK men's golf team finished tied for second at the Querencia Cabo Collegiate, shooting 11-under-par. - Sophomore Will Bishop was the individual champion, carding a 2-under-par, 70 for the tournament.
Cross country - Cally Macumber was named SEC Cross Country Athlete of the Week for the second time in a row on Tuesday. - The Rochester Hills, Mich., native's 6K time of 20:09.0 at Pre-Nationals currently ranks as the best time in the conference this season at that distance. - Macumber and Oswald led Kentucky to 12th-place overall in Louisville.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky's lone victory of the swimming meet came from sophomore Lucas Gerotto who took home first in the 100-butterfly (49.70). - The diving team had a strong opening meet with multiple victories. Junior Greg Ferrucci won the three-meter event with a score of 423.5 while senior John Fox placed fourth 332.50. Ferrucci also claimed second in the one-meter dive (361.95). For the women, in the one meter diving event Rebecca Hamperian took first for the Cats with a score of 298.35, while Sarah Chewning followed her in second scoring 282.20. Christa Cabot took first place with a final score of 308.05 in three meter diving.
Overall Record: 8-6-1, 3-1-1 C-USA Record Last Week: 2-0-0, 2-0-0 C-USA
Recent Results Wednesday, Oct. 17 - won at Marshall, 1-0 Sunday, Oct. 21 - won vs. FIU, 5-1 Upcoming Schedule (times eastern) Saturday, Oct. 27 - at Tulsa - 8 p.m.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK NOMINEE Jr., Dylan Asher (Richardson, Texas) NOTES: Junior Dylan Asher registered a prolific week in leading the Wildcats to two crucial Conference USA wins ... With UK leading scorer and starting forward Tyler Riggs out for both games due to injury, Asher - a two-time All-Conference USA defender - made his two first career starts at forward ... He finished with his first four career goals in the two games, with the eighth hat trick in UK history during a win over FIU ... During the 1-0 win at 10-win Marshall on Wednesday, Asher scored the game-winning goal in 54th minute, his first-career tally ... In the win against FIU, Asher had a career day for the Wildcats, notching goals in the third, 41st, and 57th minute to record the eighth hat trick in Kentucky soccer history ... His goals were dynamic during the week, including a diving header for the hat trick in the 57th frame vs. FIU ... The Richardson, Texas, native fired a total of four shots in the week, connecting at a 1.000 clip with all four finding nylon ... A two-time All-Conference USA selection, a preseason All-Conference USA honoree and a freshman All-American in 2010, Asher has played in 45 games with 43 starts in his career with four goals and three assists. TEAM NOTES The Kentucky men's soccer team completed a successful week with a win over 10-win Marshall on the road, 1-0, and a home 5-1 win, against Florida International. UK will return to action on Wednesday, when they travel to Oklahoma to face 10-win Tulsa at 8 p.m. ET.
Kentucky (8-6-1, Conference USA 3-1-1) posted a 6-1 goal margin in its two games, as the Wildcats got the first career goal from veteran Dylan Asher against Marshall, as well as Asher's hat-trick, and Kentucky's eighth all-time, vs. FIU. Senior midfielder Charley Pettys netted a goal vs. FIU off of a handball in the box allowed him to take the penalty kick. Veteran midfielder Gabriel Conelian set up multiple scoring chances for UK as he accounted for three assists on the week with two coming against FIU. Along with Conelian, senior Matt Lodge helped set up two goals with two well-placed balls leading to goals for the Wildcats. Newcomers, Bryan Celis, Dylan Murphy, Caleb Richardson, and Dustin Scibilia all chipped in on the action, with Celis, Murphy, and Richardson grabbing assists while Scibilia netted his first goal in his UK career.
The Wildcats have been led offensively by Tyler Riggs and Matt Lodge, who have accounted for 13 goals (Riggs-7, Lodge-6) combined through 15 games .The duo has also connected for seven assists (Riggs-4, Lodge-3) through 15 games this season. Pettys has added six goals and three assists. Conelian (3), Celis (2), Steven Perinovic (1) and Scibilia (1) have each added goals while Conelian (5), Jacob Kemper (5), Celis (2), Kristoffer Tollefsen (2), Caleb Richardson (1), Dylan Murphy (1) and Jacob Searce (1) have all registered assists.
A native of Richmond, Ky., UK keeper Jack Van Arsdale has allowed two goals in his last three games. He now owns a 1.25 goals-against average, saving 37 shots with three shutouts. UK freshman goalkeeper Callum Irving has also started three games, with seven saves and a 2.00 goals-against average.
As a team, UK has averaged 1.93 goals a game and 12.9 shots a contest and a 95-75 advantage in corner kicks. Defensively, UK owns a 1.37 goals-against average.
Kentucky entered the week owning the No. 33 RPI in the nation according to the NCAA and the 21st hardest schedule in college soccer. The Wildcats opened up the year with a 1-4 mark, before running off a 7-2-1 stretch over their last 10 games. UK has played seven ranked foes through 15 games and has suffered five of its six losses to ranked foes, including No. 25 Northwestern, No. 15 St. John's, No. 4 Charlotte, No. 11 Indiana and No. 25 SMU.
UK will travel to Tulsa for the Saturday game at 8:00 p.m. ET and then return home to take on UCF on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Junior Dylan Asher recorded the eighth hat trick in UK men's soccer history Sunday evening in the Wildcats 5-1 victory
Sunday, October 21 was a memorable night for University of Kentucky men's soccer player Dylan Asher. The junior turned 21 years old and, to top it all off, he recorded the eighth career hat trick in UK men's soccer history.
Asher, formerly a defender for the Wildcats, was transitioned to forward for the second consecutive game due to Tyler Riggs' hamstring injury. The Richardson, Texas native netted his first career goal on Wednesday at Marshall before tallying three more in the Cats' 5-1 triumph over Florida International on Sunday at the UK Soccer Complex.
Asher wasted no time getting Kentucky on the board, firing a low ball to the far post past the diving keeper in the third minute of the contest, giving the Cats a 1-0 edge. After Charley Pettys converted on a penalty kick in the 23rd minute, Asher gave UK a 3-0 advantage in the 41st, capitalizing on a great service from Caleb Richardson. The junior finished off the hat trick with a diving header from a Gabriel Conelian cross in the 57th minute for a UK 4-0 lead.
With four goals in the last two matches, the Wildcats look as though they have found a new threat up front. However, the success hasn't come without putting in the hard work.
"It makes me feel really good," Asher said. "I've been working really hard in training and I'm glad to see the goals pay off."
Asher's goal in the third minute snapped a streak of six games in which the Wildcats have failed to find the back of the net in the opening half.
Overall this season, UK has been a stronger team in the second half as a result of the amount of goals scored compared to the first half. Head coach Johan Cedergren said Asher's goal helped relax the Cats and forced FIU to expose themselves.
Although Cedergren would love to see more goals in the first stanza, he is not shocked that his squad has been more successful beating the keeper in the second half.
"I'm not surprised that we score a lot in the second half because it takes a while to wear the other team out so they open up," Cedergren said. "I think it's easier to stay with your man and follow your marking assignment but as we play and move the ball there are going to be openings."
With Asher's electrifying performances the last two games and Lodge always presenting a challenge to opposing defenders, Cedergren has decisions to make with a very deep lineup when Riggs returns. The Wildcats have switched from a 4-5-1 formation that they opened up with to begin the year, to a 4-4-2, which allows more opportunities for his forwards to score goals.
Cedergren joked postgame saying a couple of his guys complain because he doesn't reveal his lineup until about an hour before the game. How can you blame a head coach that has depth at each position on the field.?br /> "I'm to the point now where we are about 15 or 16 deep and there are no easy decisions," Cedergren said. "I think Dylan is a fantastic player and can play anywhere on the field. He was laughing at me when I called him in the office and I said listen I think we are going to play you at forward but you see the results, two games four goals. He's a fantastic player."
The Wildcats are in third place in the Conference USA standings after improving their record to 3-1-1 in league action. Kentucky has all but sealed its position in the conference tournament, which was a goal presented to the squad before the season by Cedergren.
Another highlight to touch on for Kentucky is they Cats are 7-2-1 since beginning the year 1-4-0. Cedergren still admits that all the success dates back to the 1-0 victory at Louisville on Sept. 14.
Next up for the Wildcats is a showdown with currently second place Tulsa, on Saturday, Oct. 27. With three games to play, UK could really make a statement and possibly have a shot at an NCAA bid and even claiming a league title.
Kentucky has come a long way since losing four of the first five games of the year and Cedergren credits the grueling non-conference schedule for preparing his team for an end of the year run.
"I think that we stressed all along, especially when we were 1-4 that there is a method to our madness," Cedergren said. "This is preparing us for conference play and it shows that now. Our non-conference schedule definitely prepared us for Conference USA play."
First-year head coach Johan Cedergren has the Wildcats off to a 2-1-1 record halfway through conference play. (UK Athletics)
Coming off of a three-game road swing, the University of Kentucky men's soccer team returns home to Lexington on Sunday, playing host to Conference USA foe Florida International. The Wildcats will be playing in front of their home fans for the first time in nearly three weeks and will be a nice change of pace as UK hosts three of its final four matches of the regular season.
So far this season the Cats have played nine of their matches on the road or at a neutral site. This year has been a pleasant surprise for UK as they are 5-2-0 in road contests after going 0-7-1 last season away from Lexington.
Even with its success on the road, UK will be glad to be back home this weekend in front of what should be a good crowd on homecoming weekend.
"We have one of the best fields in the country," head coach Johan Cedergren said. "If you can't play on that field, you can't play on any field. We love being home, we have a nice crowd that supports us and there will be a lot of events going on for Homecoming."
Following the Wildcats' 1-0 win over Marshall on Wednesday evening, the squad has reached the halfway point of conference play. Through four league matches, the Cats are 2-1-1 and have set the table for themselves to make a run at the conference tournament, which remains one of the team's main goals.
UK opened up C-USA action against Memphis on Sept. 30, which resulted in a 2-2 draw. Cedergren admits the team came out flat against the Tigers and felt like they took a step backward in the match.
Next up for the Cats was a very good SMU squad on Oct. 6 that was ranked No. 25 coming into the contest. UK was defeated 2-0 but Cedergren believes it was one of the best games his team has played all year and had one costly mistake that was the difference in the match.
Kentucky returned to their winning ways on Oct. 13 as they topped the 25th-ranked UAB Blazers 2-1, playing one man down for the majority of the second half.
And then we fast forward to the Wildcats 1-0 win over the NCAA's second best defensive team, Marshall, on Wednesday. UK was without its leading goal scorer, Tyler Riggs, and received a huge boost from junior Dylan Asher, who started up front for the first time in the 2012 season and scored his first career goal.
Kentucky is riding a two-game win streak following Wednesday's match and the Cats have the toughest part of their conference schedule behind them.
"Our schedule has been grueling but I think what it has done is it's prepared us for conference play," Cedergren said. "Whether we are on the road or at home and playing a conference opponent, I think we are ready for it and we know what to expect. We are confident and peaking and getting ready for the home stretch."
The Cats now turn their focus to Florida International on Sunday at the UK Soccer Complex at 5:00 p.m. The Panthers support a 0-3-1 record in conference play but are 7-4-2 overall.
The match has big implications for both teams as UK is in a position to not only make a run at the conference tournament but also an NCAA bid, while FIU will come in hungry for their first C-USA victory.
"FIU is a team that has had some success this year and has a lot of wins," Cedergren said. "They like to play us so I'm expecting it to be a great game, but if we had to pick we always want to play at home because we have one of the best fields in the country."