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Video: UK Rewind's second 2012 edition of Top Plays

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This is a couple days late, but here is what Jon Lipsitz had to say after his team won the first NCAA Tournament game in school history.


Women's soccer won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history on Friday night over UT Martin. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Women's soccer won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history on Friday night over UT Martin. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Jon Lipsitz knew this day would come.

When he accepted the head coaching position of Kentucky women's soccer, he was certain the Wildcats would deliver the program's first ever NCAA Tournament win. It was his vision.

With a 1-0 win on Friday night at the UK Soccer Complex, his team proved him right.

"I was brought here four years ago to make it to this moment," Lipsitz said.

Lipsitz even knew this was the year it would happen.

"We've been sitting in the office for three years going, '2012, 2012, 2012,' " Lipsitz said. "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."

The moment, however, did not come easily against a game UT Martin squad. The Cats and Skyhawks remained locked in a scoreless tie through 90 minutes of regulation play. UK stayed true to its possession-based style, holding the ball for the majority of the game, but failed to capitalize on 12 shots, six of which were on goal.

"UT Martin presented an unbelievable tactical challenge to us," Lipsitz said. "It was a classic soccer game of a team looking for their one moment and us trying to keep them from that moment while finally finding the goal."

For the second year in a row, the Cats headed to overtime in a first-round NCAA Tournament game. In 2011, UK would eventually fall in penalty kicks to Washington State. This time, a senior who was on the field for that loss had no intention of letting the outcome be determined in the same way. She let her team know about it.

"(Natalie) Horner was very clear with the team at the beginning of overtime that we were not going to PKs. Very clear," Lipsitz said.

So clear, in fact, that he walked away from the huddle and essentially let his team run itself. But not before drawing up the play that would win the Cats the game. It seems, in fact, that just as Lipsitz knew this day would come, so too did he have a good idea how its decisive moment would happen.

"He literally drew up the goal," Arin Gilliland said.

With Skyhawks swarming Gilliland, Lipsitz recognized UK's sophomore forward likely wouldn't be adding to her team-leading goal total.

"Before overtime I took out my pad and I drew Gilliland going central like that and they were running four players at her and I said to her, 'You are not going to score the goal, it's not going to happen,' " Lipsitz said. " 'There is no way you are going to get through that many players. Even if you do there is going to be a fifth and a sixth.' "

With Gilliland drawing the attention, Kelli Hubly went wide. Gilliland fed her and the freshman forward put away the game winner.

"I actually did not think it was real life," Hubly said. "When I got the ball I was thinking, 'What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?' Every day at practice we work on those, and I said, 'Oh, I just have to hit it past her.' "

It turns out the situation was yet another one Lipsitz foresaw.

UK was on the field this morning what he expected to be a casual walkthrough, but Lipsitz heard something that concerned him. Working on the exact breakaway situation on which she would score just hours later, the words "I'm not good at these" escaped Hubly's mouth. To Lipsitz, that was unacceptable.

"We don't really work on anything except for walking through the day of the game, but I pulled some balls out and made her do that repeatedly," Lipsitz said. "We made all of our forwards do that because from film we knew that would be the way to score."

When game time arrived, Lipsitz pulled Hubly aside to hammer his message home: self-assuredness is a must.

"I made her say over and over 'I'm going to score a goal, I'm going to score a goal, I'm going to get a breakaway, I'm going to score a goal,' " Lipsitz said. "It's just so special because it's one thing to coach, it's another thing when players respond."

Right again, Coach Lipsitz.

Now that everything Lipsitz believed would happen has come to pass, what's next?

Well, UK almost certainly faces a West Coast trip to face the winner of second-seeded San Diego State and Cal State Northridge. Before refocusing on doubling UK's all-time NCAA win total, the Cats are going to savor No. 1.

"The next step, it starts Sunday," Lipsitz said. "Saturday, it doesn't. We're going to enjoy this for a little while but it starts Sunday. You have to get that first one to take the pressure off, to know that this is what we are about. For me, I'm going to enjoy this because we can never do this again, that's the special thing about the first."


UK played an NCAA first-round game in front of 1,065 fans in 2011. The Wildcats will host for the second year in a row on Friday at 7 p.m. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) UK played an NCAA first-round game in front of 1,065 fans in 2011. The Wildcats will host for the second year in a row on Friday at 7 p.m. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Last season, it had been since 1999 that the Kentucky women's soccer team had earned the right to host in the NCAA Tournament. But in Jon Lipsitz's third year as head coach, the Wildcats did just that.

After another successful 2012 campaign, the Cats ensured there would not be another decade-plus-long wait for the next time the postseason would come to Lexington.

UK learned late on Monday afternoon it would begin its run in the NCAAs on the same field where Senior Night festivities were held less than two weeks ago. Having done it in back-to-back seasons, the message is clear.

"To do it the second year in a row, this is our standard now," Lipsitz said. "This is who we want to be every year."

The Cats don't want things to be quite the same as last year though. This time around, they want to advance. In last year's first round, UK lost in dramatic fashion to Washington State, falling in penalty kicks in front of a crowd of 1,065, third largest among the 32 first-round sites.

The players can remember what the atmosphere was like at the UK Soccer Complex last November. When they take on Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion UT Martin (13-5-3) at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, they expect a similar one.

"It was so hard to hear anything on the field, even a teammate next to you," senior Alyssa Telang said. "It's going to be really exciting. Big Blue Nation is awesome."

The Wildcats have set reaching this point as a goal from the beginning of the season, but their RPI of 33 left their bid to be one of 32 first-round hosts in doubt. In the end, marquee wins over Florida and Tennessee made the difference.

"We feel like we've earned the bid," Lipsitz said. "We worked very hard. From the beginning of the year, we started keeping notes on our big wins and we started talking about the need for our big wins so the NCAA committee would see that."

Now, the team is looking for a few more.

It starts with the Skyhawks on Saturday. For all of their accomplishments, members of UK's senior class have not yet won a postseason match. Changing that would be a fitting sendoff for a group that Lipsitz credits for transforming the culture of his program.

"We had the chance last year and we fell short," senior Natalie Horner said. "This year, we've been taking it one game at a time, but this game is by far the biggest game. We're so excited to be playing and we have a lot of work to do this week, but winning this game would be awesome for us."

The coaching staff has long been preparing to put the players in position to do just that. Recognizing UK's talent, Lipsitz and his assistants have been quietly compiling scouting reports on potential NCAA opponents for the past month.

"One of the joys in coaching this team this year is we knew from pretty early on that we had the talent to make the NCAAs," Lipsitz said. "And we knew early on that if we just fulfilled our destiny, if we just believed in one another, that we would be at this point. It's allowed the coaches to do a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure we were ready for this moment."

Even so, the process of learning about UT Martin is only just beginning. Lipsitz will be compiling the book on the Skyhawks Monday night before hitting the practice field with his team on Tuesday. Regardless of what he uncovers, the focus in training will be primarily internal.

"The number one thing is we have to take care of ourselves," Lipsitz said. "Obviously we'll get as much information on the opponent as we can, but the most important thing is take care of ourselves. The most important thing is to play the brand of soccer that we believe in, for us to play our best and then there's nothing more we can control."

What that means is plenty of work over the next few days. Lipsitz was interviewed about the NCAA bid in front of his players and when he was asked what this week will entail, he answered of "Great, fun," with a wry smile. His words were meant by knowing laughter, suggesting the Cats are well aware of what is ahead of them.

"It's a pretty simple choice at this time of year," Lipsitz said. "Either you've turned in your gear and you're doing nothing or you're working your tail off to win another game."

UK will take hard work in heartbeat.

Video: Women's soccer team reacts to NCAA berth

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On Monday, the Kentucky women's soccer team learned it will host a NCAA Tournament first-round game for the second season in a row. The Wildcats will take on UT-Martin on Friday at 7 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.

Watch the video above to see the team's reaction to making the NCAA Tournament and stay tuned for more coverage later.

Kentucky Sports Report (week of Nov. 11)

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Football
- Linebacker Avery Williamson, who entered the game leading the league in total tackles, had a career-high 20 tackles. He is the first UK player with 20 or more tackles since Chad Anderson made 21 tackles against Georgia in 2003.
- Kentucky has an open date Nov. 10 before returning to action Sat. Nov. 17 at home vs. Samford. Kentucky entered the weekend having played the toughest schedule in the nation, according to Anderson and Hester computer ratings used in the official BCS rankings.

Men's basketball
- Kentucky was paced by a team-high 22 points from freshman Archie Goodwin in the win over, NAIA's No. 1 ranked team, Northwood.
- Fellow freshman Nerlens Noel added a double-double effort with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
- The meeting with Transylvania will mark the final preseason competition for the Cats, before UK travels to Brooklyn, N.Y., to open the Barclays Center with a season-opening contest against Maryland on Friday.

Volleyball
- The 17 victories guarantees UK a winning season for an unprecedented eighth-consecutive season under UK coach Craig Skinner.
- The Wildcats were paced by senior Ashley Frazier as she averaged 4.29 kills per set on an impressive .362 hitting percentage. Frazier had a career-high 20 kills against the Rebels to couple with a career-high eight digs in the win.
- Senior setter Christine Hartmann directed the offense to the tune of 15.80 kills per set on a .372 hitting percentage.
- Senior libero Stephanie Klefot continues to be an anchor for the Wildcats from the back line. She was perfect on her serve-receive attempts and averaged a squad-best 4.14 digs per set. With 29 scoops on the weekend, she became just the fourth player in SEC history to tally 1,800 or more digs in a career.

Women's soccer
- Kentucky bowed out of the SEC Tournament to Missouri in the quarterfinals 2-1 in Orange Beach, Ala., on Wednesday.
- Caitlin Landis scored UK's lone goal on Wednesday. Landis has scored three goals in the last two games.

Men's soccer
- The Wildcats have been led offensively by Tyler Riggs and Matt Lodge, who have accounted for 14 goals (Riggs-7, Lodge-7) combined through 18 games .The duo has also connected for six assists (Riggs-4, Lodge-2) during the regular season.
- UK will travel to Hoover, Ala. for the C-USA tournament game at 6:00 p.m. ET vs. Memphis.

Rifle
- The University of Kentucky rifle team defeated No. 15 North Carolina State and The Citadel on Saturday, shooting a 4686 in the triangular match in Charleston, S.C.
- Junior Emily Holsopple shot a personal-best 590 in smallbore.
- Sophomore Jonathan Pinkel and freshman Luke South recorded personal bests in air rifle, Pinkel shooting a 591 and South a 590.

Women's golf
- The UK women's golf team finished in sixth place at the Alamo Invitational with a score of 11-over-par, 875.
- The squad set a program record with a final round of 6-under-par, 282. The Cats broke the previous school record of 284 for a round, which was set during the 2009-10 season.
- Kentucky had two top-25 finishers as Ashleigh Albrecht placed tied for 22nd at 2-over, while Cylia Damerau was tied for 25th at 3-over.

Cross country
- Cally Macumber was named Southeastern Conference Cross Country Runner of the Year on Friday.
- The Rochester Hills, Mich., native won the SEC Championship Race on Oct. 26 and owns the SEC-best times at both 5,000 meters and 6K. She was also named a First Team All-SEC runner.
- Macumber was the first Wildcat to win the women's SEC Title since Valarie McGovern won the conference meet in 1989.
- The Kentucky cross country teams return to action on Nov. 9 for the NCAA Southeast Regional in Charlotte, N.C.

Swimming and diving
- Kentucky divers junior Greg Ferrucci and freshman Rebecca Hamperian each picked up wins in the 1-meter and 3-meter events Friday against Auburn.
- For the third consecutive Friday, sophomore Lucas Gerotto won the 100-butterfly (49.25) and has bested his time each meet. His sister, sophomore Julia Gerotto, earned her first win of the season with a victory in the 200-butterfly (2:02.44) while also picking up a second place finish in the 1000-freestyle (10:15.39).

Upcoming schedule

Monday, Nov. 5

Women's basketball hosts Bellarmine - 6:00 p.m.
Men's basketball hosts Transylvania - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 8
Men's tennis at USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships (Flushing Meadows, N.Y.)

Friday, Nov. 9

Volleyball at Alabama - 8:00 p.m.
Men's tennis at Louisville Invite (Louisville, Ky.)
Men's tennis at USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships (Flushing Meadows, N.Y.)
Men's tennis at Bulldog Scramble (Athens, Ga.)
Men's basketball vs. Maryland (Brooklyn, N.Y.) - 8:30
Cross country NCAA Southeast Regional (Charlotte, N.C.)

Saturday, Nov. 10
Men's tennis at Louisville Invite (Louisville, Ky.)
Men's tennis at USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships (Flushing Meadows, N.Y.)
Men's tennis at Bulldog Scramble (Athens, Ga.)
Rifle hosts Navy
Women's basketball hosts Delaware State - 1:00 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 11

Volleyball at Arkansas - 2:30 p.m.
Men's tennis at Louisville Invite (Louisville, Ky.)
Men's tennis at USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships
(Flushing Meadows, N.Y.)
Men's tennis at Bulldog Scramble (Athens, Ga.)

Jon Lipsitz and the Kentucky women's soccer team will open play in the SEC Tournament at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday against Missouri. (Aaron Borton, UK Athletics) Jon Lipsitz and the Kentucky women's soccer team will open play in the SEC Tournament at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday against Missouri. (Aaron Borton, UK Athletics)

On Wednesday, the Kentucky women's soccer team opens play in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala. At 8:30 p.m. ET, the Wildcats will face a rematch with the Missouri Tigers, a team that handed them a 2-1 overtime loss less than a month ago. It's also a matchup of two teams hoping to position themselves for a bid to host a game or two in the NCAA Tournament.

In other words, UK has plenty to play for.

After closing out the regular season last Thursday with a 3-0 victory over Vanderbilt, Jon Lipsitz could have gone all in on this Missouri game, turning to every conceivable measure to win it. With the talent of the Tigers, it certainly would have been understandable if he had, but Lipsitz has chosen another path.

It's not that he doesn't want to win or that he doesn't respect UK's opponent. The fact is that Lipsitz has chosen to approach this week as one long tournament, not a series of games.

"We have to understand that we're trying to build not just toward one game," Lipsitz said. "We're trying to build toward multiple games. That's our goal in single-elimination situations: to play multiple games."

What that has meant over the six days since the Cats last played is plenty of rest to allow them to recover from the grind of having played 19 matches in a little more than two months. When they have practiced, the sessions have been short and sweet.

"When you're training for one game, it's very different from training for multiple games so we've treated this more like training for an entire tournament because that's our plan," Lipsitz said. "Therefore it's been very crisp and very detailed, but short training sessions."

The approach is a bold one, because neither Lipsitz nor any player on the roster has yet won a postseason game at Kentucky. Last season, UK lost its first match in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. Two years ago, the Cats fell in penalty kicks in the SEC Tournament to South Carolina before missing out on an NCAA big.

For the most part, Lipsitz has stayed away from changing what he says to his team with the postseason set to begin, with a notable exception.

"The one thing that I have said is that we're in postseason time now and this senior class has never won a postseason game," Lipsitz said. "We've got both the SEC Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament coming up. It's time for this program to take the next step. I think putting those expectations out there is important because those are our expectations."

Outside of that, Lipsitz is coaching the same as he did during a regular season that saw UK go 13-5-1 and earn the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament. The reason why he hasn't had to talk to a team with a sophomore - Arin Gilliland - and two freshmen - Courtney Raetzman and Kelli Hubly - among its top three scorers about the increased intensity of playing in a one-and-done format is the leadership of UK's five seniors.

"Quite honestly, the last time I felt this way about leadership was my last two years at Charlotte," Lipsitz said.

The two 49er teams to which Lipsitz compares these Wildcats won a combined 34 games and reached back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.

"It takes time to build leaders in a mold that you want as a coach," Lipsitz said. "This says absolutely nothing negative about the leadership that we've had before, but it takes time and it takes multiple leaders."

With that kind of leadership, Lipsitz has found that he doesn't have to concern himself as much with making sure his team is in the right frame of mind. He's not shirking that responsibility, but he trusts his veterans to set the tone.

"The other thing leadership allows coaches to do is stay more even-keeled," Lipsitz said. "If I'm not having to be the emotional center of a team and the players can be the emotional center, then coaches can coach and can worry about the tactics."

That's a particular luxury with Missouri looming.

The Tigers represent a marked contrast in style with UK's possession-based attacking approach, relying on athleticism to create chances while the Cats prefer to use passing to do so.

"We're just very different teams," Lipsitz said. "They are an extremely physical team, they are very direct, their backs want to get the ball forward as fast as possible and they want to get the ball behind the other team as fast as possible."

The Tigers used that approach to create 19 shots when they hosted and defeated the Wildcats on Oct. 5. Only one time this season has UK allowed more shots in a game.

"There are many different ways to play this game, just like in any sport," Lipsitz said. "There are lots of different ways to win and they've been very successful their way and we've been successful our way. It's not right or wrong, we're just different."

The winner of the UK-Missouri match - which will be live streamed on the SEC Digital Network - will go on to face either top-seeded Florida or No. 8 seed Ole Miss on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Cats are loving their beachfront hotel and temperatures in the mid-70s, but the biggest reason why they want to stick around Orange Beach is because they are enjoying each other's company so much.

"It's just about spending time together right now," Lipsitz said. "We've been in a bus all (Monday) and we were still in a bus (Tuesday) and we're enjoying ourselves. We're enjoying being together and I think that speaks for itself."

The way things look right now, soccer fans in Lexington might have a few more chances to see matches after the end of the regular-season schedule.

Both the Kentucky men's and women's soccer programs appear to be locks for the NCAA Tournament and, with the two programs riding late-season hot streaks, hosting a game or two is looking like a more realistic possibility.

Let's take a look at the resumes for each:

Men's soccer
Record: 9-6-1 (4-1-1 Conference USA)
Last five matches: 4-1-0 (won four straight)
RPI: 14 (best in school history)
Key RPI wins: at No. 8 Louisville, at No. 22 Tulsa, at No. 26 UAB
Worst loss: at No. 57 Dayton

After starting the season 1-4-0, the Wildcats have put together a remarkable six-week stretch against one of the nation's toughest schedules in Johan Cedergren's first season as head coach.

UK has two regular-season games remaining against UCF and South Carolina on Wednesday and Sunday, both at home. After that, the Cats will travel to Birmingham, Ala., for the Conference USA Championship from Nov. 7-11. The bracket for the NCAA Tournament will be announced on Nov. 12.

Forty-eight teams receive bids to the NCAA Tournament in men's soccer, with 16 receiving first-round byes. Teams seeded 17-32 will host first-round games on Nov. 15 against teams seeded 33-48 for the right to travel to face the top-16-seeded teams in the second round on Nov. 18.

With UK's strong RPI, a first-round bye is not out of the question, particularly with a solid finish over the next two weeks.

Women's soccer
Record: 13-5-1 (8-4-1 Southeastern Conference)
Last five matches: 5-0-0
RPI: 26
Key RPI wins: No. 9 Florida, at No. 13 Tennessee, at No. 39 Louisville
Worst loss: No. 128 Samford (played in Louisville)

Outside of a six-match stretch during the middle of the season when UK won just once in six tries, it has been a banner season for Jon Lipsitz's team. The Cats are the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament and will play fifth-seeded Missouri on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET with potential semifinal and final matches to be played on Friday and Sunday before NCAA selections are announced on Nov. 5.

A victory in the conference tournament would likely assure Kentucky of hosting an NCAA Tournament game for the second time in as many seasons. Sixty-four teams will be in the field, with the top 32 hosting first-round matches Nov. 9-11.

With No. 9 Florida and No. 31 Missouri on UK's side of the SEC Tournament bracket, the Cats will have opportunities to grab resume wins and potentially the right to host beyond the first round.

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