Seniors Shine in #14/12 Kentucky’s 3-0 Win Over Marshall

Box Score | Highlights + Matsoso Interview | Photo Gallery

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 14/12 Kentucky men’s soccer team defeated Marshall comprehensively with Napo Matsoso scoring two goals for the second match in a row, bookending J.J. Williams’  61st-minute finish, at The Bell Sunday.

Kentucky kept its ninth clean sheet of the season, with goalkeeper Stuart Ford making three saves and Braeden Luna playing the final six minutes untroubled, behind another dominant performance by the Kentucky defense.

Kentucky’s six seniors – Ryan Creel, Napo Matsoso, Sam Miller, Charlie Reymann, Paul Sime and Jordan Wilson – were honored before the match. 

Matsoso had an ideal senior night scoring two goals in 72 minutes of action, while Sime dished his first assist of the year.

Creel and Miller were lively in attack, and Wilson and Reymann were typically resolute in the rearguard.

Kentucky improved its 2016 record to won 11, lost 3, drew 2 (5-2-0 Conference USA). The Wildcats concluded the home portion of their regular-season schedule unbeaten (8-0-2) for the first time in program history.

The Wildcats moved into second place on the Conference USA Table on 15 points. Kentucky sits three points behind No. 8/10 Charlotte with one round of matches remaining. 

The Wildcats will play at No. 25/20 South Carolina (13 points) in the regular-season finale Friday. Charlotte will visit Marshall Friday.

The goals
Matsoso, who has found some of the best form of his career this week, remained red hot when he whipped a 22-yard direct free kick in at the right upper-90 to open the scoring just past the 12-minute mark.

Kentucky dominated the first half, with Marshall mustering just two serious forays forward in the opening 45. Tommy Trupo did miss a sitter over the cross bar from five yards late in the half. 

Matsoso forced an excellent save on another 22-yard free kick with wicked bend early in the second half, to foreshadow what was to come.

Freshman J.J. Williams, who has emerged as Kentucky’s starter at the top of Kentucky’s attack the last four matches, doubled the lead just past an hour played. 

Noah Hutchins whipped in a ball from the right channel, and apparently Paul Sime’s run into the box put Marshall keeper Tervor Clemens off as he couldn’t collect. The ball fell to Williams who smashed home with his right foot for the second goal of his career.

Four minutes later Sime played Matsoso into an advanced position and the midfield virtuoso dribbled into the box, and eluded multiple defenders before slotting his left-footed shot inside the left post.

The quote
“It’s all about attitude that we bring to the team,” Matsoso said. “We were all 100-percent focused for the game, and we all wanted to win for everyone -- all the fans. Everything went our way, and we’re happy with the win.”

The notes
Matsoso scored a brace for the fourth time this year. He’s tallied two in each of the four of the games he’s scored in this season, and leads Kentucky with eight goals this season. With 20 points  (eight goals, four assists) this season, he’s had a hand in 50 percent (12 of 24) of Kentucky’s goals this season.

Matsoso ranks second in the league in goals (eight), and points (20). New Mexico’s Niko Hansen leads the league with 10 goals, and 21 points.

He set a new career-high with eight goals this year.

He scored the first goal with his right foot, and the second with his left.

Sime assisted his first goal of the year. 

Kentucky did not concede a goal at home in its four Conference USA matches this season. Kentucky did not allow a goal at home in the league for the second year in a row.

The Wildcats have allowed at least one in each of its three C-USA road matches this year, however. They have won one, and lost two of those matches.

Kentucky, which entered the weekend with the No. 8 goals-against average in the nation, lowered that average to 0.53.

The Wildcats shutout their opponent for the ninth time this season. Ford got credit for half the clean sheet as Luna played for the first time of his career. 

Kentucky won its fourth in a row. The Wildcats are 8-1-1 in their last 10 matches.

Marshall dropped to 6-10-1 (1-5-1 in C-USA).

The Wildcats improved to 19-7-3 all-time against Marshall. UK has won five-straight in the series, all in shutouts.

Kentucky welcomed 1,407 supporters to The Bell, Sunday. 

A total of 15,667 fans visited The Bell though 10 home matches in 2016. The Wildcats averaged 1,567 spectators per match this season, breaking their record of 1,565 per game, which was set in 2015.

The setup
Kentucky head coach Johan Cedergren – fresh off the 50th win of his career midweek at Florida Atlantic – started the same 11 from the team that won 2-1 in Boca Raton, Florida, on Wednesday.

Kentucky held at No. 14 in this week’s NSCAA coaches’ poll and moved up two spots to No. 12 in this week’s NCAA Rating Percentage Index.

Kentucky was on a three-match winning streak, and entered 7-1-1 in its last nine outings.

The Class of 2016
Kentucky’s seniors collectively have brought the program to new heights over the course of their four years in Lexington, having won the Conference USA Championship last season and reached the NCAA Tournament each of the past two years. 

The Wildcats have won more than 10 games in each of the past three years.

UK Soccer in C-USA
Kentucky plays in C-USA in men’s soccer only. The Southeastern Conference does not offer men’s soccer as a sport. South Carolina is the only other SEC university that has a varsity men’s soccer team. The Gamecocks are also in C-USA.

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