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Thumbnail image for scratchies semiannual (2).jpg Guy Ramsey took on the rigorous task last holiday season of dubbing Wildcats esteemed victors of the 2011 Scratchies. The Scratchies commemorate the best of the best of the fall semester, celebrating the many achievements and top events and performers so far in the athletic calendar. Guy has, with great regret and sorrow due to a stressful and hectic schedule, passed along the duties of handing out these illustrious Wildcats to me. After putting in countless hours of research and analysis, consulting with the Cat Scratches brain trust, and many sleepless nights, it is with great honor that I present to you the winners of 2012 Scratchies for the fall semester...

MVW (Most Valuable Wildcat)
Cally Macumber (Cross Country) - The 2012 cross country season was one of the best in Kentucky history as junior Cally Macumber helped welcome new head coach Edrick Floreal with an individual SEC Championship. Macumber won the SEC Championship on Oct. 26, she earned SEC-best times in both the 5,000- and 6,000-meter events, won SEC Athlete of the Week twice, and was named 2012 SEC Cross Country Runner of the Year. She became the first Wildcat to win the women's SEC Title since 1989.

The Dream Team (team of the semester)
Volleyball - For the second time in as many seasons and the third in four years under head coach Craig Skinner, the Kentucky volleyball team advanced to the Sweet 16. Kentucky earned the No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, giving the Cats the opportunity to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats defeated East Tennessee State to move on and face Ohio State. Kentucky won convincingly over the Buckeyes, 3-1, after dropping the first set.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they would be matched up with the No. 1 seed in Penn State in the West Lafayette, Ind., Regional. The six-time NCAA Champions fought off the Wildcats as UK made runs in the first two sets and ended another successful Kentucky season. The Cats finished the year with another 20-win season with a final record of 22-11. They faced one of the toughest schedules in the country, beat Tennessee twice, and had three Wildcats named All-Americans including second-team selection Whitney Billings and honorable mentions Stephanie Klefot and Christine Hartmann.

The Adolph Rupp Award (coach of the semester)
Jon Lipsitz (women's soccer) and Johan Cedergren (men's soccer) - The Kentucky soccer programs each reached new heights in the respective programs this season, and much of the credit goes to those running those teams. Women's soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz guided his team to the first NCAA Tournament win in program history with a victory over UT Martin in the first round. Kentucky racked up big wins against Louisville and Florida and finished 14-7-1 to cap off one of the best seasons in program history.

Johan Cedergren's first season at the helm of the men's program got off to a rocky start, but it didn't take long before he rallied the troops. The Cats dropped their first three matches of the season before getting in the win column against Saint Joseph's. The Wildcats' next win came in a huge upset over rival Louisville, which sparked a four-game win streak. After a tie against Memphis and losses to Indiana and Southern Methodist, Kentucky went on another four-game win streak to put itself in prime position to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. Not only did Kentucky make the NCAA Tournament field, but the Cats were selected to host the first round for just the second time in program history. Kentucky fell to No. 19 Xavier in the first round, but UK finished with a 10-9-2 record and Cedergren looks to have his program on the rise.

The Butler-VCU Award (surprise team of the semester)
Men's soccer - When UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart hired Johan Cedergren to become the new head coach of the men's soccer program, most expected Cedergren to eventually right the ship and get the team headed in the right direction. But no one could have expected the run they would go on after starting the season 1-4-0. There was a gloomy outlook on the beginning of the season as Cedergren looked to install his style on his veteran squad. But the Wildcats got a broke out and broke through with an upset win on the road over rival Louisville. After the 1-4-0 start, Kentucky went on to post a 9-5-2 mark over its last 16 games, building a strong enough resume not only to make the NCAA Tournament, but also host the first round for the second time in program history.

One Shining Moment (best moment)

Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart introduces his newest hire in head football coach Mark Stoops in his first press conference. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart introduces his newest hire in head football coach Mark Stoops in his first press conference. (Chet White, UK Athletics)

Stoops Press Conference (football) - Kentucky football got a shot in the arm with the hiring of Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as the new head coach at the University of Kentucky. It was a hire that reignited passion in the Kentucky football program as Stoops brings with him an impressive resume backed up by a pedigree of successful collegiate football coaches.

After an exhaustive coaching search, Barnhart found his man and officially named Stoops the next head football coach on Nov. 27. And for the first time as the new head coach, he was introduced to the media, donors, Kentucky Athletics staff and some fans for the very first time during an elaborate celebration/press conference on Dec. 2. Stoops and his family got to see firsthand what the Big Blue Nation is all about as he was first greeted by fans waiting outside of the Nutter Field House in the rain. As he entered, he was met by Kentucky cheerleaders and the sound of the Kentucky fight song on his way to the podium to meet Barnhart and UK President Eli Capilouto.

The hiring and the event sparked the Kentucky fan base and now has the state buzzing about football in the thick of the college basketball season.

The "Band is Out On the Field" Award (best game/match)
Volleyball comes back from 2-0 deficit at Tennessee - Kentucky was looking for its first season sweep of Tennessee since 1995. The Wildcats earned their first three-set sweep over the Volunteers since that same 1995 season in their first meeting of 2012. Knoxville, Tenn., had not been kind to the Wildcats in recent history, and it looked as if history would repeat itself once more. After the first two sets of the match, the Wildcats faced a 2-0 deficit at the break and it was all but certain that UK would split matches with UT.

The Wildcats came out angry and hammered the Vols, 25-14, in the third set. They then held off UT in set four, forcing the decisive fifth set with a 25-22 victory. Riding all of the momentum of the match, stealing it directly from the clutch of Tennessee's hands, Kentucky handled the Volunteers with a 15-5 in a set where UT never threatened. And for the first time in 17 years, Kentucky returned to Lexington with two wins over the neighbors to the south.

The Doug Flutie Hail Mary Award (best play)



Hubly's golden goal in 93rd minute earns first-ever NCAA Tournament victory - Kentucky and UT Martin were locked in a scoreless battle heading to overtime. The Wildcats had earned the right to host the first round as they sought the first NCAA Tournament win in program history. In the 93rd minute of the game, freshman Kelli Hubly came from the right wing, took a one-on-one opportunity, beat the defender and knocked her shot in past the diving UT Martin goalkeeper for the game winner.

Honorable mention: Janee Thompson's three, Azia Bishop's block clinch comeback win at Louisville for UK Hoops

All-Wildcat Team (the Scratchies equivalent of the All-America Team)
Cally Macumber (XC)- SEC Cross Country Runner of the Year, SEC Champion
Whitney Billings (volleyball) - Second-Team All-American
Avery Williamson (football)  - Second in SEC in tackles with 135 while adding three sacks
Larry Warford (football) - Three-year starter at offensive guard named All-American by AP
Stephanie Klefot (volleyball)  - SEC Libero of the Year for conference record third consecutive season
Arin Gilliland (women's soccer)  - First-Team All-SEC
Matt Lodge (men's soccer)  - First-Team All-C-USA
Steven Perinovic (men's soccer)  - First-Team All-C-USA
Greg Ferrucci (diving) - Two-time SEC Diver of the Week so far in 2012
Henri Junghanel (rifle)  - Tied a program best shooting a 597 in the air rifle event

All-Calipari Team (all-freshman team)
Courtney Raetzman (women's soccer)  - Freshman All-SEC scoring four goals with 12 total points
Kelli Hubly (women's soccer) - Scored six goals, including a game winner in the NCAA Tournament
Sara Schwarzwalder (volleyball)  - Freshman All-SEC tallying 149 kills (1.51 k/set) in 30 starts
Landon Foster (football) - Named to the first team Freshman All-America by Scout.com as well as earning All-SEC Freshman accolades
Archie Goodwin (men's basketball) -Averaging team-highs in points (15.8) and assists (4.4) through 10 games
Nerlens Noel (men's basketball) - Putting up impressive numbers across the board, averaging 10.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.8 spg, 3.9 bpg through his first 10 games
Rebecca Hamperian (diving) - Named SEC Female Freshman of the Week (Nov. 6)

All-Up-and-Comers (non-freshmen on the rise)
Kyle Wiltjer (men's basketball) -First double-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds vs. Lipscomb (averaging 11.7 points on the season)
Zan Morgan (volleyball)  - Started for the first time as junior in 2012 averaging 2.3 kills/set and 1.1 blocks/set
Samarie Walker (women's basketball) - Has started all 10 games this season averaging 9.0 points and 7.6 rebounds
Charles Pettys (men's soccer) - Scored six goals in his junior campaign in 18 games this season
Liz Breed (women's golf) - The junior shot a 2-under-par (70) helping UK to a 6-under-par score, a record low round in program history, at the Alamo Invitational in San Antonio, Texas
Will Bishop (men's golf) - The sophomore won the Cabo Collegiate shooting 2-under-par for the event to pick up his first collegiate victory

He said what? (quote of the semester) - "We've been sitting in the office for three years going, '2012, 2012, 2012. And that doesn't mean we didn't think it could happen before. We almost did it last year, but it was our dream that we knew it was going to happen this year. We knew." - Jon Lipsitz after women's soccer won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history.

The Dougie Award
Coach Mitchell dances to MC Hammer at Big Blue Madness

In recent years, UK Athletics has made unprecedented strides in fielding a comprehensive athletic program. Twice in the past three years, the department has finished 29th in the final Director's Cup standings, a impressive mark, but not yet reaching the top-15 level Mitch Barnhart set as a goal as part of his 15 by 15 by 15 plan.

Historically, the fall sports season has put UK Athletics in a position of having to play catch-up in the winter and spring. Volleyball, men's soccer, women's soccer and cross country all complete the championship portions of their schedule in November or December. Each team has had its moments, but those moments have rarely coincided.

In 2012-13, it's been a different story.

UK is one of just six schools nationally to reach the NCAA Tournament in men's soccer, women's soccer and volleyball, joining Washington, UCLA, North Carolina, Marquette and Notre Dame. Moreover, UK is one of just three programs to host a first-round game in all three sports along with Washington and UCLA.

Volleyball has been a mainstay in the tournament, receiving bids in each of the last eight seasons, but the success of the two soccer teams is new. Women's soccer has now reached back-to-back NCAA Tournaments under Jon Lipsitz, including this season when the Wildcats won a game for the first time in school history. Meanwhile, Johan Cedergren's team was ahead of schedule in his first season, hosting a tournament game for the second time in school history.

The lone fall Olympic program at UK not to reach the team portion of the NCAA Championships was cross country, but individuals from both the men's and women's teams were represented in the individual portion. Cally Macumber and Chelsea Oswald each earned All-America recognition with top-40 finishes, while Luis Orta finished 114th, impressive for a runner participating in the race for the first time. All in all, the early returns in Edrick Floreal's first season leading UK track and field and cross country were very good.

Of course, the final piece of the fall puzzle is football, and UK recognizes just how important that program is to the department as a whole and, just as importantly, the Big Blue Nation. The 2012 season may not have gone as planned, but the coming weeks could lay the foundation for a bright future with a new coach set to be named soon.

Kentucky Sports Report (week of Nov. 19)

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Football
- Kentucky was impressive both on offense and defense in a win over Samford. Offensively, Kentucky posted 455 yards of total offense including 342 on the ground, while the UK defense limited Samford to 102 yards of total offense - which was the lowest output by a UK opponent since 1996.
- True freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow went 10-of-13 for 66 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 59 yards and a rushing touchdown. Junior Raymond Sanders led the team in rushing with 123 yards and a TD.
- Linebacker Avery Williamson paced the defense with 13 tackles, including two sacks, becoming the first player since 1990 to have four straight games with 13 or more tackles.

Men's basketball
- Freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel led the effort against Duke as Poythress scored 20 points, while Noel contributed 15 points and eight rebounds.
- Kentucky used sharp shooting in going over the century mark in the 101-49 victory over Lafayette.
Kentucky's .645 shooting from the floor as a team was the best under fourth-year head coach John Calipari and best for any UK team since 2008.
- Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer hit a career-high seven 3-pointers. Poythress charted a career-high 22 points to become the first freshman to have back-to-back 20-point efforts since Brandon Knight in February 2011.

Volleyball
- Junior Alexandra Morgan shined in a 3-1 win over Georgia with nine kills on a .400 hitting percentage, but it was her defense that proved the difference. Morgan had a career-high 10 blocks to accompany three aces and four digs. The 10 rejections was easily a career high and it marks the first 10-block performance by a Wildcat since Lauren Rapp had 10 blocks in an NCAA Tournament victory back in 2010.
- UK honored the senior class of Ashley Frazier, Christine Hartmann and Stephanie Klefot before the match. Frazier had nine kills, Hartmann a double-double with 45 assists and 13 digs, and Klefot a match-high 19 scoops in the victory.

Women's basketball
- UK's first road trip of the season wasn't a very pleasant one as the Wildcats dropped an 85-51 decision to No. 1 Baylor in the programs' first-ever meeting. It didn't help that UK shot its lowest shooting percentage since 2008, netting just 27.1 percent from the field. Senior guard A'dia Mathies led UK with 12 points, while sophomore guard Bria Goss added 11.
- UK regrouped and charted an 80-46 win over High Point on Saturday, hitting 50 percent from the field (30-of-60) and forcing 32 turnovers on season-high tying 19 steals. Mathies once again led the way, scoring all 17 of her points in the first half. Junior forward Samarie Walker pulled down a season-best 12 rebounds to go along with six points, three assists and three steals.

Women's soccer
- UK fell to No. 5/6 UCLA in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship, ending their season with a 14-6-1 mark.
- It was the first time UK had ever advanced in the NCAA Tournament in 20 years of competition.
- Kentucky finished the season with a 2-1-1 record against top-15 teams in the country, knocking off No. 12 Louisville, No. 13 Florida and earning a draw with No. 6 Texas A&M.

Rifle
- The Kentucky rifle team shot a 4693 on Saturday but fell to top-ranked TCU.
- Freshman Connor Davis tied a program best in air rifle with a 597. Senior Henri Junghänel led the team with an aggregate score of 1185, shooting a 590 in smallbore followed by a 595 in air rifle.

Cross country

- Cally Macumber capped a great season with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA National Championships on Saturday. She finished the 6K race in a season-best time of 19:42.20, fewer than 15 seconds behind the race winner. She is the highest NCAA finisher for the Wildcat women since Valerie McGovern was the national runner-up in 1989. Macumber became the first woman in UK history to complete a 6K race in less than 20 minutes.
- Chelsea Oswald also had an impressive day as she came in 37th with a time of 20:13.00. Both Macumber and Oswald earned All-America honors, marking the first time since 1988 that multiple UK women were garnered that recognition in the same year.
- Luis Orta also impressed by finishing with a time of 30:52.30 in his first NCAA Championship appearance.

Swimming and diving
- Kentucky's men's and women's swimming teams earned second place finishes in the Volunteer Invitational this weekend. The Wildcats earned strong individual performances from freshman Matt Roman and junior Lucas Gerotto on the men's side, while sophomore Julia Gerotto, senior Mandy Myers and senior Megan Eppler led the way for the women.
- Junior diver Greg Ferrucci had a big weekend, sweeping the 1-meter (369.95), 3-meter (410.90), and the platform (383.35) events over Tennessee and Duke.

Men's soccer
- Kentucky fell to No. 19 Xavier, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
- UK hosted just its second NCAA Tournament game in the history of the program and its first since 2003. UK's NCAA Tournament berth was also its first in nine seasons, with the Wildcats making its fifth all-time postseason appearance.

Upcoming schedule

Wednesday, Nov. 21
Men's basketball hosts Morehead State - 7:00 p.m.
Volleyball at Missouri - 8:00 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 23
Volleyball at Auburn - 4:00 p.m.
Women's basketball hosts Morehead State - 4:00 p.m.
Men's basketball hosts LIU Brooklyn - 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 24
Football at Tennessee - 12:21 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 25
Women's basketball hosts USC Upstate - 1:00 p.m.

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.

Video: Cedergren, Lodge, Wilder on NCAA loss

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NCAA Tournament live blog: Men's soccer vs. Xavier

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The UK men's soccer team is hosting Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the UK Soccer Complex (Michael Reeves, UK Athletics). The UK men's soccer team is hosting Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the UK Soccer Complex (Michael Reeves, UK Athletics).
For the first time since 2003, the University of Kentucky men's soccer team is hosting the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament against Xavier on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the UK Soccer Complex. However, first-year head coach Johan Cedergren is taking a different approach than usual after his squad was selected to host on Monday during the NCAA Men's Soccer Selection Show.

Cedergren and the team will stay the night in a hotel Wednesday evening and treat the contest as if they were traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the Musketeers.
 
Why, some may ask?

Well, the Wildcats own an impressive 6-2 road record on the year, including victories over ranked foes Louisville, UAB and Tulsa to name a few. While in Lexington, UK has dropped its last two matches and sport just a 3-4-1 mark at home.

Following a win at Tulsa on Oct. 27, the Wildcats were sitting pretty in the Conference USA standings and had won four straight - three coming on the road. With home games against UCF and South Carolina left on the schedule and a shot at the regular-season league title, junior defender Steven Perinovic jokingly mentioned to Cedergren that he should call the remaining opponents and inform them that UK would openly travel to their facilities instead of playing the contests in Lexington.

This was all a joke but Kentucky ended up dropping its final two games of the year and finished in fifth place in C-USA. In all honesty, Cedergren is ecstatic to be playing at home but is trying a different approach and offers a few suggestions of why the team has fared better on the road.

"I think when you are on the road you just get into the routine where you get to relax a lot," Cedergren said. "You don't have to worry about girlfriends, friends and Facebook and that kind of stuff. We kind of control what they do and what they don't do. When they are on the road all of their focus is on soccer."

After falling short in the final two regular season games, UK suddenly saw its NCAA tournament hopes on the ropes. Kentucky would need a strong showing in the league tournament to assure a berth into postseason play.

The Cats did just that as they picked up an important 1-0 decision over Memphis in the first round and went toe to toe with the conference's regular season champion, SMU, before losing to the Mustangs in penalty kicks.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Kentucky is right where it wants to be and has gained valuable experience heading into Thursday evening.

"In the short two-week span, there was a lot of growing because we now all of a sudden have been in pressure situations four times," Cedergren said. "The first two times we didn't do as well as we wanted but then we did much better. Going to play Xavier where you have to win to keep going, we've played must-win games the last four so it's nothing different for us playing tomorrow."

Because this is the first NCAA bid UK has earned since 2003, none of the players have any sort of postseason experience.

So who will Kentucky rely on for leadership?

Look no further than the coaching staff, which is loaded with postseason experience and national championships. Cedergren has been to the NCAA tournament in each of the last six seasons, while assistant coach Erik Imler won three national titles as a player and fellow assistant David Casper owns one as well from his playing days.

"We have been sharing some information and some things to think about with the guys all throughout the season," Cedergren said. "I think within the staff, we have been there, we have done that, we know how to handle it and for the guys it's just a matter of getting over the hump."

Xavier comes in with a 13-2-5 overall record and finished 6-1-2 in the Atlantic-10 conference. The Musketeers have outscored their opponents 47-19 on the year with their lone defeats against top-25 foes St. Louis and Virginia Commonwealth.

XU defeated Dayton in penalty kicks in the A-10 tournament and tied Northwestern earlier in the year - two teams that defeated the Wildcats early in the season.

Cedergren is very impressed with the type of program Xavier has developed over the years and wasn't hesitant to praise his team's next opponent.

"You have to have a lot of respect for Xavier and how well they have done since Coach (Andy) Fleming took over," Cedergren said. "Before that they were not a team that was on the bubble to get into the tournament or even considered. In three years he has gone three for three so that's an unbelievable achievement and now we have to see who the better team around this area is."

Another interesting tidbit to throw into tomorrow night's matchup is the ties between Xavier and UK's head coach. Cedergren is no newcomer to the matchups against XU, having played against the Musketeers as a member of Cincinnati's team back in his playing days.

Cedergren also received his MBA from Xavier, putting the Wildcats' head coach in an interesting position. Without much thinking, Cedergren reverted back to his playing days and enjoyed every time his team got the best of the Musketeers saying it never hurts to beat Xavier.

With a new rivalry possibly forming, Cedergren is anxious to see what tomorrow night has in store.

"This is a little different with Kentucky and Xavier but for me I just want to play the best opponent possible," Cedergren said. "I think Xavier is a really good team and it will be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow."




On Monday evening, the Kentucky men's soccer team got the news it was hoping for as the Wildcats were selected to the fifth NCAA Tournament in school history and first since 2003. UK will begin its tourney run at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, playing host to Xavier at the UK Soccer Complex.

In the video above, first-year head coach Johan Cedergren talks about the tourney berth immediately after the selection show. Stay tuned for more coverage leading up to Thursday's game.

After participating in Senior Day festivities on Sunday, Jacob Kemper scored his first career goal to propel UK to a C-USA Tournament win on Wednesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics_ After participating in Senior Day festivities on Sunday, Jacob Kemper scored his first career goal to propel UK to a C-USA Tournament win on Wednesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics_

Last season marked the first time since joining Conference USA in 2005, that the University of Kentucky men's soccer team missed out on the league tournament. The program had earned a berth into the postseason tournament in its first six years before seeing its streak snapped a year ago.

This season, the Wildcats find themselves back in the conference tournament with a chance to extend their 2012 a while longer under first-year head coach Johan Cedergren. Kentucky did just that on Wednesday evening as the No. 5 seeded Cats, ousted the No. 4 seeded Memphis Tigers, 1-0 in the first round of the C-USA tournament in Hoover, Ala.

The match was a struggle all night for the two squads as they battled to a scoreless first half. Senior Jacob Kemper gave the Wildcats a jolt of energy in the 75th minute as he blasted a shot from 30 yards out, netting his first career goal and moving UK on to the second round.

The goal was much-needed for the Cats as they have been searching for offensive production after going through an unfortunate slump over the last week. Kentucky had gone 8-2-1 in its previous 11 contests and carried a second place conference record of 4-1-1 heading into the final two matches of the regular season. UK looked to be in great position to earn a first-round bye and possibly even winning the regular season title.

However, Kentucky fell 1-0 at home in back-to-back games to UCF and South Carolina and dropped to the fifth seed in C-USA. What seemed to be a confident group heading into postseason play, had suddenly hit a wall and was searching for answers.

It was evident early on in Wednesday evening's bout who the more poised team was. Memphis, who had just come off three consecutive wins including a victory over the league's top team, SMU, came out and was a bit more loose than the Cats. Nonetheless, UK fought off the early charge from the Tigers and was able to eventually settle in.

"Our team played really, really well," Cedergren said. "(Memphis) had two great wins to get into the tournament and you could tell the first 15-20 minutes that there was a very confident team that we were playing. Our last two results didn't go the way we wanted and we were a little unsure of ourselves but we slowly but surely worked our way into the game."

The win was sweet revenge for Kentucky, who tied Memphis 2-2 in their C-USA opener on Sept. 30 at the UK Soccer Complex. Yes the match resulted in a tie and the Wildcats were awarded a point, but Cedergren was not happy with the way his squad came out and played that game, especially in the first half.

Wednesday's result proved to be a different story as the game was a combined effort from the entire team. Kemper's goal was the difference, but the defense held off every Memphis charge. Goalkeeper Jack Van Arsdale recorded a career-high six saves, including four key denials in the second half. After earning a starting role early int the season, the junior has stepped up and been a key contributor to the Wildcats' success this season with tremendous play, coming up with clutch saves in several games this season.

"I think Jack is a kid that when we came in we weren't sure about and he's responded," Cedergren said. "We brought in a really good freshman goalkeeper and Jack said, 'I'm not giving up this job, it's mine,' and he's worked really hard in practice and he's made some huge saves."

Kemper recorded his first career goal in 57 games played at Kentucky. It has been a long time coming for the senior who Cedergren says "bleeds blue." For Kemper and the rest of the seniors, they did not want this to be the final game of the season.

"It literally means so much," Kemper said. "I feel like I have put so much of my heart into this team for four years. We have had so many struggles in the past, especially our senior class. This is our only year with Johan and the staff. It just means everything, I can't even describe the feeling. Just awesome."

Kentucky moves on to the semifinals to face No. 1 seeded SMU on Friday, Nov. 9. Like Memphis, UK will get a rematch with the Mustangs, who defeated the Cats, 2-0 on Oct. 6 in Dallas, Texas. Kentucky fell in the contest but Cedergren truly believes his team played one of their best games that night.

"I think up until 60-65 minutes we felt we had them under pretty good control," Cedergren said. "They were dangerous but so were we and then we gave up a penalty and just crumbled from there. I think we are really excited about getting a rematch with the league's best team and of course we respect them, but we don't fear them and I think the way that we played today, we can play with anyone in the country."

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