Kentucky Downs No. 9 Arkansas in Fayetteville
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Kentucky women’s soccer team got its first road top-10 win in over three years on Sunday afternoon as the Wildcats earned goals in each half to beat the No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks, 2-1, at Razorback Field.
The win over a top-10 team on the road is just the sixth in program history in the first since a 4-2 defeat of No. 10 West Virginia in Morgantown back in 2013. Sunday’s win is the first Southeastern Conference win for UK in 2016 as the Wildcats improve to 5-8-4 overall and 1-6-3 in SEC play.
“I have been coaching for 34 years, and I have never been prouder of a team than I am of this team today,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. “With everything that has gone against us, this team could have packed it in the last two matches of the season. They said that we may have nothing in the standings to play for, but we have to play for pride and love for one another. On the road, against a top-10 team, we played as well as we have all year for 90 minutes and played with incredible guts and effort. Now we go home and celebrate this incredible senior class on Thursday night. I have tremendous respect for Arkansas and (head coach) Colby Hale. We will be cheering for them in the NCAA Tournament.”
The loss for Arkansas is its first home defeat all season.
The scoring opened against the run of play in the 24th minute as senior captain Kaitlin Miller scored her fourth goal of the season to put the Wildcats ahead, 1-0. Miller was served in a ball from Zoe Swift, who tallied her team-leading fifth assist of the season along the left flank and the ball came across the face of goal along the six and Miller finished with her right foot back across the goalkeeper’s body to the far post for a 1-0 lead.
Arkansas responded like you would expect a top-10 team to do on its home pitch, as the Razorbacks equalized 10 minutes later in the 34th minute through the eighth goal of Lindsey Mayo with Erika Miller getting the assist. The goal for the Razorbacks made the match 1-1 heading into halftime.
The Wildcats came out and really pressed in the second half, earning all five of its corner kicks in the second 45.
Swift scored her sixth goal of the season in the 67th minute, in what turned out to be the eventual match-winning goal. Swift was served a ball over top the heads of the centerbacks of Arkansas and from the left side, where Swift was waiting in front of goal for the lovely finish. Junior Tanya Samarzich started the goal-scoring threat in the run of play with a ball wide outside to Crosetti, who served in the ball to Swift for the match-winner.
Not to be overlooked was the play of senior goalkeeper Ayanna Parker, who was filling in for Evangeline Soucie (injury) and had simply a brilliant game in net, making two unbelievable saves in the dying minutes of the match to preserve the 1-0 win. Parker picked up her first-career SEC win, saving five of the six shots that she faced and playing all 90 minutes of a match for the fifth time in her career.
“Four years of hard work culminated into 90 minutes of leadership, courage and game-winning goalkeeping today,” Ian Carry said. “I’m really proud of her today.”
The Wildcats will play one final match in 2016 on Thursday night against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Bell Soccer Complex at 7:30 p.m. ET. The match will be shown live on the SEC Network+, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app with Neil Price (pxp) and Stuart Pope (color) calling the action. Thursday will also be Senior Night, as Kentucky will honor its seven graduating seniors with a pre-match ceremony beginning around 7:15 p.m. ET.
For the latest on the Kentucky women’s soccer team, follow @UKWomensSoccer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.