Men's Soccer Works Shutout in Exhibition Opener at NKU
Aug. 17, 2014
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -- Freshman goalkeeper Stuart Ford – seeing his first collegiate action in place of first-team All-Conference USA keeper Callum Irving – worked a clean sheet in a scoreless draw at Northern Kentucky in the first exhibition of the Kentucky men’s soccer season, in front of a NKU record 1,934 on Sunday night at the NKU Soccer Complex.
Kentucky and Northern Kentucky battled to a scoreless draw in the first exhibition tune-up for both teams in 2014. UK and NKU have played three consecutive years to open its preseason schedule, with NKU setting program records for attendance in all three meetings.
“This is the third time we have been up here and I just love coming up here,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. “We want to grow the game in this state and playing Northern Kentucky every year is something we want to do. Having 1,900 fans is huge. In this kind of atmosphere and how Northern Kentucky plays. I thought they played great. They worked their socks off. They played to their strengths. For us, college soccer is about winning your battles. You’ve got to be able to outfight your man. This is a great game for us to play every year. It is a preseason game but you come up here and it’s an instate rival and all of a sudden things matter, it gets a little heated and it’s a really good atmosphere. I love coming here, it is a great environment.”
The Wildcats got a save from Ford, who helped anchor a UK defensive unit that surrendered just one shot on goal in the game.
“What a game Stu had,” Cedergren said. “We are hoping to have Cally back in a couple days. But there was no doubt in my mind that Stu could do it. Stuart has really grown as a player and a person in the last year. We had individual meetings with all my returners a couple days ago and he comes in and is just a completely different person. He is confident. He is fit. He knows his role and what he has to do and he does it really well. If you talked to Jordan (Wilson), Kaelon (Fox), or Charlie (Reymann) playing center back, they would have no doubt that Stuart can play at this level. His athleticism, and now with his confidence and ability, he played a great game. His distribution was good. He dominated the box. He talked to his back four. Stu did really well.”
UK was led offensively by freshman Stefan Stojkovic, who fired a game-best four shots. UK also got shots from Kristoffer Tollefsen, Matt Quick, Jordan Wilson, Sam Miller and Hampus Agerstrom.
Kentucky finished with a 9-3 advantage in shots and a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal. The Norse had four corners in the game with the Wildcats getting two, with NKU owning a 18-11 mark in fouls.
Several Kentucky players made their first career actions, including Ford, starting in place of Irving, a first-team All-Conference USA goalkeeper, who was nursing a minor injury. UK also had Dimitri DeChurch-Silva and Jason Pitts make their first career starts. Stojkovic, Agerstrom, Kevin Barajas, Nick Bigilin and Jamie Terpak all saw their first career action.
UK had two shots on goal in the first half, forcing saves on shots from Agerstrom and Wilson.
“It was a good game. The guys worked really hard,” Cedergren said. “Everyone that was healthy played at least 45 minutes. We worked a lot of tactics these first five days. We’ve gone through the playbook. We’ve shown lots of video; shown clips of us and other pro teams. We have a good base understanding of how to play. We were nice and solid defensively; we only let one shot on goal. In the end we got a shutout, the guys played as a team and worked really hard.”
NKU used two keepers in the game, as Toby Frohlich made two saves in the first half and A.J. Fleak made two saves in the second half as UK ratcheted up the pressure in the final frame.
Kentucky will return to exhibition action on Saturday vs. Georgia State in its first game action at the sparkling new Wendell & Vicki Bell Soccer Complex. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.