#13/12 Kentucky to Conclude Regular Season at South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 13/12 Kentucky and South Carolina will do some last jockeying for position in the Conference USA men’s soccer standings when they play their regular-season finale, Friday at Stone Stadium.

The only two Southeastern Conference universities that sponsor varsity men’s soccer will renew their rivalry beginning at 7 p.m. The SEC Network+ broadcast will be streamed live on WatchESPN/ESPN3.

UK Soccer in C-USA
Kentucky and South Carolina play in C-USA in men’s soccer only. The SEC does not offer men’s soccer as a sport, and as such the two teams compete in Conference USA as “affiliate members.” South Carolina is the only other SEC university that has a varsity men’s soccer team.

The SEC Championship rivalry
As the only two SEC men’s soccer programs, Kentucky and South Carolina often refer to their rivalry colloquially as the “SEC Men’s Soccer Championship.”

Derby nicknames aside, plenty will be on the line in Friday’s matchup.

For the third year in a row the league title has come down to Charlotte and Kentucky. The 49ers are assured at least a share of the league championship as they sit on 18 points. They’ve won every C-USA match this year except for their trip to Lexington, which Kentucky won 1-0.

Kentucky, on 15 points, has two road losses this year for a league record of won 5, lost 2, drew 0. 

Kentucky could claim a share of the C-USA Regular-Season Title with a win, and a Charlotte loss. South Carolina, with 13 points, could finish as high as second in the league. Florida International also has 13 points.

Should Marshall take all three points at Charlotte, and Kentucky win on Friday, the Wildcats and 49ers would share the league title. Anything short of those two results would see Charlotte crowned league champion.

If Kentucky and Charlotte did both finish on 18 points, however, the Wildcats would claim the No. 1 seed in next week’s C-USA Tournament and the first-round bye that goes along with it in the seven-team tournament.

The setup
Kentucky arrives in the South Carolina capital with a 2016 record of won 11, lost 3, drew 2 (5-2-0 C- USA). The Wildcats concluded the home portion of their regular-season schedule unbeaten (8-0-2) for the first time in program history.

Kentucky is 3-3 on the road this season, 1-2 in league matches away from home.

Kentucky has won four in a row. The Wildcats are 8-1-1 in their last 10 matches.

South Carolina is 9-6-1 (4-2-1 C-USA). The Gamecocks have lost two in a row.

The precedent
The all-time series between the only SEC varsity men’s soccer teams is tied at 6-6-3.

Kentucky won, 1-0, last season at The Bell. 

The Wildcats won the last meeting in Columbia, two seasons ago, 4-3 on a Ryan Creel winner late in double overtime. Napo Matsoso scored the first three goals of that match. South Carolina exacted a measure of revenge with a 2-1 win against Kentucky in the 2014 C-USA Tournament, hosted by Old Dominion, a few weeks later. 

The Matsoso file
Matsoso was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week, on Monday.

He scored a brace in each of Kentucky’s two conference wins, last week.

Matsoso has tallied two goals in each of the four games he’s scored in this season, and leads Kentucky with eight goals in 2016. 

With 20 points (eight goals, four assists) this season, he’s had a hand in 50 percent (12 of 24) of Kentucky’s goals.

Matsoso ranks second in the league in both goals (eight), and points (20). 

Matsoso set a new career-high with eight goals this year.

He earned C-USA Player of the Week honors for the first time this year and third time of his career.

Other individual notes
Stuart Ford has kept nine clean sheets this season, the second most in the league

UK boasts C-USA’s No. 2 goals-against average: .53, which is eighth best in the NCAA.

Charlie Reymann has the team lead with seven assists, which is the most in C-USA as well.

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