Kentucky Draws Defending Conference Champs LBSU in Season Opener
LONG BEACH, California. – The 2016 season got underway on Friday night in Long Beach, with the Kentucky Wildcats earning a hard-fought draw against 2015 Big West Champion Long Beach State, 1-1 in the Golden State.
Kentucky and Long Beach played a great match of soccer with the pace high for a season-opening affair and possession at a premium. The Wildcats got a goal in the 30th minute from junior Katy Keen off a rebound to put Kentucky on the forefront, but UK was equalized by the 49ers in the 37th minute off a goal from Ashley Gonzales.
“I’m incredibly proud of this team for getting a hard-fought result against a fantastic team like Long Beach State,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said after the match. “We came here for a reason, and the main reason being we knew Long Beach would test us in areas that will help us down the road. I have an immense amount of respect for LBSU and I wish them the best of luck.”
In the opening overtime frame, LBSU had the run of play, but the best scoring chance came from Kentucky’s LaMaya Williams, who was dangerous all night. After a 50/50 ball was won in midfield by Kaitlin Miller, Williams turned and went right at the wideback, and launched a shot from 27 yards out that was well saved in the end just a few minutes into the overtime.
In the second half of overtime, a crazy finish ensued with Kentucky earning a corner kick with 15 seconds left on the clock. The ball was served in, and then headed away by the centerbacks to close the match.
The Wildcats started five freshmen in its starting 11, and they played 447 minutes combined, as the youth movement has begun in Lexington. Freshman goalkeeper Evangeline Soucie was solid all night in net, allowing just one goal and making two saves in the match.
“We played a lot of freshman tonight, and at moments it showed. However, they you’re always nervous in your first collegiate match, and I thought that they all brought things to the table that we are going to be very glad to have going forward.” Lipsitz said.
Kentucky managed five shots in the first half of play, and one in each of the final three periods.
The Wildcats will stay on the west coast for two more days, as UK faces off against women’s soccer powerhouse Pepperdine on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET from Malibu, California.
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