Matsoso Rampant as Cats Start 2016 with 4-0 Win

Box ScoreMatsoso reaction | Matsoso Goals Goal Mouth Video

MILWAUKEE – Napo Matsoso delivered on his considerable preseason hype, scoring two fantastic goals and assist another to lead the Kentucky men’s soccer team to a 4-0 win at Marquette on Friday.

The preseason Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year’s class shone through in the closing minutes of what was a solid opening-half performance by Kentucky.  The more threatening team through the first 42 minutes, Matsoso used some individual brilliance in the period’s last 180 seconds to give Kentucky a comprehensive advantage at the interval.  

Kentucky scored twice more in the second half, and the Wildcats’ experienced defense showed its strength in a convincing season-opening shutout win.

The goals
Matsoso collected a Kevin Barajas pass centrally on 43 minutes and proceeded to dribble diagonally past multiple defenders eventually ripping a shot from 22 yards at the corner of the box across the goal and into the left-side netting.

Two minutes later on the other side of the pitch Matsoso collected a Marquette attempted corner-kick clearance in the channel, and cut in toward the left top corner of the box. He hammered a low screamer that weaved through traffic and in at the far-side netting to double Kentucky’s advantage just before the teams went into the dressing rooms. 

On 56 minutes, Connor Probert delivered a sumptuous outswinging service on a free kick from 44 yards directly onto Alex Bumpus’s foot near the six on 56 minutes. The junior defender looped a volley back across the face of goal and in to all-but seal the result. It was Probert’s first assist, and Bumpus’ first career goal. 

Tanner Hummel sprang Matsoso in behind on a breakaway in the 90th minute and with plenty of frame to shoot at the Kentucky playmaker instead squared the ball for Xahne Reid who tucked home to seal the result at 4-0.

The quote
“Everyone was pretty excited to start the season,” Matsoso said. “Been a long time since November. Great win for the team and it’s always good to keep a clean sheet. (UK head coach) Johan (Cedergren) always says just hit them in transition and don’t be afraid to shoot and test the goalie. That’s what I try to do all the time and it came off pretty well this time.

“I try to spend as much time as I can taking advantage of the facilities we have. I go out there and hit some long-distance shots because I know in the end it will pay off. Tonight it did, which is always a great feeling.”

The notes
Kentucky improved to 1-0-0 this season, Marquette dropped to 0-0-1. 

Kentucky and Marquette had never played each other before. 

Kentucky is 15-10-1 all-time in regular-season openers. The Wildcats won their second opener in a row.

Kentucky is 3-2 in season openers under Johan Cedergren.

Kentucky won its first true road match of a season since 2012 at Louisville.

Matsoso – who scored four goals last season, second most on the team -- now has 13 career goals. Reid scored three times last season.

The setup
Head coach Johan Cedergren named a starting 11 that featured seven regular starters from the team that won the Conference USA regular-season, in addition to reaching the NCAA Tournament, a year ago.

The Wildcats fielded the same back-four that was a top-10 scoring defense in the nation last season.

Junior Stuart Ford started in goal, while fellow-junior Kevin Barajas took the holding midfield place vacated by graduated Kristoffer Tollefsen. Freshman kiwi Connor Probert started on the wing.

The best coverage of UK men's soccer is available via UKMensSoccer handles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.