Matsoso’s Last-Minute Goal Lifts No. 14 UK over Valpo, 2-1
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Preseason All-American Napo Matsoso scored in the 90th minute, giving No. 14 Kentucky a 2-1 comeback win over Valparaiso on Friday at the Bell Soccer Complex.
Matsoso’s goal ignited the 2,137 supporters in attendance for Kentucky’s season opener and the women’s soccer team’s 3-0 win earlier in the evening.
The crowd was the second largest for a home opener in program history (3,327 v Louisville in 2005).
The goal epitomized Matsoso’s “Man of the Match” caliber performance as he was brilliant on the ball, turning defenders with regularity and spraying balls all over the pitch, especially with penetrating passes in behind the back line.
He left Valpo’s defense in shambles on a counter-attack with a minute remaining in regulation, turning three defenders in midfield with a rare bit of skill before sliding a ball in behind along the right to Andrew McKelvey. The sophomore forward’s cross found Kevin Barajas, but he scuffed the shot.
Luckily it fell to Matsoso, as defender Charlier Reymann occupied defender’s attention after steaming into the box from the left. Matsoso, a MAC Hermann watch list member, made no mistakes on the finish as his shot ended up in the back right corner of the net.
Kentucky started the match with the better of possession, but was unable to create any clear-cut chances through the first 30 minutes.
Valpo opened the scoring, slightly against the run of play, six minutes before the break. Matthew Gweh hit home off a through ball from Stian Sandbekkhuag to put the hosts in a hole at half.
After a bright start to the second half, Kentucky’s work was rewarded 10 minutes after the restart. Noah Hutchins leveled the match, hammering home a cross from his fellow Columbus, Ohio, native McKelvey – who of course was freed up on the right flank by a Matsoso through ball.
Kentucky looked dangerous in the five minutes following the equalizer, but couldn’t find the frame.
As both teams tired into the final half-hour, chances for both were sporadic.
That was until Matsoso’s brilliance unlocked Valpo’s defense for the winner. The goal was one of the latest winners in program history, although Stefan Stojkovic’s winner with seven seconds to play at No. 1 Notre Dame holds the record.
“You could see in the guys’ eyes when I went in to talk to them at halftime that this game was not over,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. “They were going to come back, there was no doubt. We made some adjustments, talked about moving more and to increase the ball speed a little bit.
“I thought we played well the first 20 minutes of the second half, but then we seemed to get a little tired, which is natural the first game of the year. We were even talking about Napo looking a little gimpy and if we needed to put someone else in. I ended up deciding you don’t take one of the best players in the country out. He scores the game-winning goal with 30 seconds to go. In general it was a good test. Valpo is a good team. Well-coached, tough to break down.”