Hutchins’ Golden-Goal Gives UK 2-1 Win at Charlotte in 2OT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Noah Hutchins scored from the edge of the box with just under five minutes to play in the second overtime to lift No. 16 Kentucky to a 2-1 win at Charlotte on Saturday.
The dramatic victory clinched at least a share of the Conference USA regular-season championship for Kentucky. The Wildcats have earned 19 points this season, three more than Charlotte with one league match for both teams remaining.>
Hutchins received a ball from Kristoffer Tollefsen in midfield, dribbled wide along the right side before cutting in toward the edge of the box where he perfectly lofted a left-footed shot just out of the reach of goalkeeper Austin Pack’s fingertips and into the left upper-90 of the goal.
Hampus Agerstrӧm broke the deadlock on 57 minutes with a volleyed effort after the goalkeeper’s punch of Charlie Reymann’s corner kick.
From there Charlotte threw numbers forward to chase the game, and for much of the next half-hour-plus Kentucky dealt with that pressure well.
After all, the Wildcats entered the match having not conceded a goal in six C-USA matches (578:34).
But the Wildcats scoreless run ended 55 seconds short of seven matches as Kyle Parker nodded home a Brandt Bronico cross from close range to equalize just before what would have been full-time.
This Kentucky team showed their level of fight in overtime overcoming some early Charlotte half-chances and eventually snatching a winner.
Callum Irving had to settle for conceding a goal in league play for the first time this season, although it came from point-blank range. He was, however, spectacular in goal once again, tying his season-high with seven saves.The quotes
“Kris sprayed me out wide after he worked hard to win it,” Hutchins said. “It was late in overtime, I thought it was time to end the game so I cut in on my left, took a shot and beat the keeper.”
“It just shows the character we have in this team,” defender Jordan Wilson said. “Our goal was to win, and if you want to be a champion you’ve got to come back from setbacks. For them to score with 55 seconds left and then for us to come back to win it in double-overtime shows what this team’s about – The hard work and what we were willing to do for each other. Noah scores a great goal to win the game for us. It shows that talent shows through with hard work.”
Kentucky last won a men’s soccer conference championship in 2004 in the Mid-American Conference. The Wildcats have at least a share of their first C-USA title.
Kentucky moved to (10-3-2, 6-0-1 C-USA). Charlotte dropped to (8-4-2, 5-1-1 C-USA).
Kentucky remained unbeaten in C-USA play. The Wildcats have scored nine and allowed just one goal in C-USA matches this year.
Kentucky and Charlotte will have one additional league game to play – Kentucky at home against Florida International and Charlotte at UAB – on Nov. 7.
The Wildcats clinched the No. 1-seed in the C-USA Tournament with Saturday’s win, as they will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Charlotte regardless of results from the final round of league games.
Kentucky won its first game against Charlotte as the Wildcats were previously 0-4 against the 49ers, including a heartbreaking 2-1 result on what was a de facto conference title match on the final day in 2014.
Hutchins’ goal was his third of the year. Agerstrӧm scored his second of the year.