Freshmen, Newcomers Lead Soccer to Season-Opening Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- In their first career collegiate games, Kentucky men's soccer freshmen Tyler Beadle and Tyler Riggs provided heroics, as Riggs scored his first career goal and Beadle toiled a clean sheet in his first career contest, leading the Wildcats to a 1-0 win over Eastern Illinois in the regular-season opener, in front of 1,003 fans on a gorgeous Friday night at the UK Soccer Complex.
Riggs, a native of Louisville, Ky., and a product of St. Xavier High School, had a breakout game in his first career action for the Wildcats. Riggs, who fired three total shots in the game, netted his first career goal in the 31st minute, helping lead a splendid UK offensive attack that registered an impressive 21 shots, including 10 shots on goal. Beadle, making his first career start, was solid in goal for the Wildcats, saving two shots and helping UK post a shutout win in the first game of the year. Beadle claimed the starting goalkeeper position in the preseason, replacing graduated four-year starter Dan Williams in goal.
"I was excited to get the win," UK head coach Ian Collins said. "I thought we played well against a difficult opponent in EIU. They are always a tough team and they are going to win a lot of games this season. I was very impressed with our young players and our whole team. We took 21 shots, their keeper made some great saves, we hit the post once and we were buzzing around. I was impressed, for the first game. I thought our young guys adapted well, we were playing eight or nine freshmen tonight. I am really happy but it was just one game and we are going to have to get ready for IUPUI on Sunday."
Kentucky (1-0) was dynamic offensively, forcing EIU goalkeeper Sean Molony into nine saves, with Molony making several impressive stops of UK threats. UK was led with four shots and three shots on goal from sophomores Jordan Rose and Cameron Wilder. Rose, making his first career appearance after battling injury early in his career, got the start on the front line, exerting his physical presence throughout the contest and assisting on Riggs' game-winner. Wilder fired four shots in 59 minutes, applying pressure on the EIU defense with his quickness and speed.
Riggs, named one of the preseason top 100 freshmen to watch in collegiate soccer by CollegeSoccerNews.com, got UK on the board in the 31st frame, as Rose played a low ball through the defense. Riggs gathered the ball and beat the keeper one-on-one, firing a soft shot into the net for his first career goal.
UK also got three shots each from junior Brad Walker and sophomore Matt Lodge. In their first career action, freshmen defenders Dylan Asher and Steven Perinovic played the full 90 minutes on the backline, limiting the EIU offensive threat. Playing defensive midfield, Walker was solid, winning 9-of-10 contested header attempts in the contest, using his 6-foot-4 frame and instincts wisely in the air.
Kentucky will return to action on Sunday, resuming the UK Invitational. Eastern Illinois and UNC Asheville will play on Sunday at noon ET and the Wildcats will play IUPUI at 2:30 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex. In the first game on Friday, IUPUI posted a 3-1 win over UNC Asheville.
UK had several chances early, taking complete control of the first half. UK mounted three consecutive corner kicks in the first few minutes and the Wildcats had good looks at goal from Rose in the 16th minute and a hard-hit shot from David Harrison in the 19th minute from around 35 yards out. Wilder fired a shot from about 15 yards out in the 23rd minute that just barely clipped the post.
Head coach Ian Collins
Freshman Tyler Riggs