Lodge, Defense Posts Thrilling 1-0 Win at No. 18 Louisville

Sept. 14, 2012

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky senior Matt Lodge connected on a free-kick goal in the 38th minute and goalkeeper Jack Van Arsdalesaved a staggering six shots, leading the Wildcats to a thrilling 1-0 win over No. 18 Louisville on Friday night in front of 5,583 fans, the second-largest crowd in Cardinal Park history.

"I couldn't be any more excited for the guys," UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. "This is a huge game for us. For us we are trying to make little steps every game. We were really good in training this week and overall it was a good defensive performance. We have talked about the back four before and it was good to see them come up and save us. The back four and Jack had a fantastic game. It's nice for a senior like Lodge to come here and score the winning goal. We had two other chances where we hit the post so it was a very good game from our team."

Kentucky (2-4-0) and the Cardinals slugged it out in a riveting 90 minutes, with Lodge's first-half tally proving to be the difference. UL put offensive pressure on the UK defense throughout the second half, with UK getting inspired play from Van Arsdale and defenders Steven Perinovic, Dylan Asher, Jacob Speed and Jacob Kemper. UK senior co-captain Cameron Wilder also turned in a stellar performance, stabilizing the midfield and helping lead the youthful Wildcats to the 1-0 result.  

The game was played in front of a wild 5,583 fans at Cardinal Park, the largest crowd to ever witness a UK soccer game, eclipsing the previous record of 3,568 fans at Indiana in 2001.

"It's good and it shows what kind of team spirit we have that the guys will not stop fighting," Cedergren said. "We were 0-3 and then 1-4 and its easy for the seniors to say it's not going to happen this year. But we were really sharp in training this week and you could just see how much it mattered to them today in the game. They were diving around and doing everything they could to protect the goal. It was a huge effort and huge credit to our team."

UK came out at a furious pace to start the game, as Tyler Riggs and Kristoffer Tollefsen each hit the post in the first 10 minutes of the half. After Lodge netted the gorgeous, bending goal on a free kick, the UK defensive unit was challenged. The offensively potent Cardinals mounted a wild second half, firing eight shots and running up seven corner kicks as the UK defensive unit continually stopped the UL rallies.

Louisville (3-2-0) keeper Joachim Ball finished with one save in the game, allowing the decisive goal on the free kick.

Van Arsdale collected his first clean sheet of the year, with UK getting its second in the last three games. He saved a career-best six shots in between the pipes, including several acrobatic stops of UL shots. In the first half, Van Arsdale rejected a shot on a UL breakaway by extending his right leg out to thwart a sure goal for the Cardinals, just one of his six heroic saves.

"Huge win, anytime you can go into a big-time opponent's house and beat them it's unbelievable," Van Arsdale said. "Huge crowd tonight, everything was against us but we came out and we believed in each other. It was a perfect game tonight. It's easy when you are engaged the entire game and that's what I was; saves right from the beginning, saves at the end. My teammates helped me out a lot. They blocked a lot of shots, won a lot of headers for me. It was an all-around great team effort."

Van Arsdale, a 6-foot-1 junior, made his fourth start of the year, with his shutout the first of his two-year UK career.

"Jack and Cally (freshman Callum Irving) are two great goalkeepers," Cedergren said. "Jack, it means a lot for him, he's been here for a while and Cally is new and the in state rivalry is a little extra. Jack you could see in him today that he made up his mind he was going to keep a clean sheet. To come in here at Louisville to keep a clean sheet is a fantastic feeling."

"Jack kept us in the game," Lodge said. "He must have made about 10 saves in the second half. Credit the back four as well, Stevie (Perinovic), Dylan, Speed and Kemper they all played really good tonight."

UK got on the board in the 38th minute, as Lodge provided the fireworks after forcing a foul at the top of the 18-yard box to set up a free kick. Lodge took the kick and bent it around the wall, hooking just in at the far post. Lodge now owns 20 career goals and three in 2012, giving him the sixth-most goals in UK soccer career history, tying him with former UK speedster Michael Strong.

"Felt amazing," Lodge said. "Best feeling I've ever had. Stadium was full. Credit to Louisville and UK fans they turned out in force. On that goal, as soon as I kicked it I knew it was going in and I just wanted to go over to my teammates and celebrate."

The win gives UK its first win over a top-25 opponent since a 5-1 win over No. 15 Brown on Sept. 18, 2011, as Louisville was ranked as high as No. 18 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, also ranking No. 22 by Soccer Times. The Wildcats have played a grueling schedule to open the first year of the Cedergren era, facing four top-25 foes in the first six games, with all four of their losses coming in one-goal defeats. The win over Louisville at Cardinal Park was UK's first since 2004.

Kentucky returns to action on Wednesday, Sept. 19 with a home matchup with East Tennessee State at 7 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.

GAME NOTES: UK played its fourth ranked opponent in the first six games of the 2012 season and five of UK's six opening opponents are currently ranked ... Matt Lodge now has 20 goals, 15 assists and 55 points in his UK career ... Lodge now ranks tied with Michael Strong for the sixth-most goals in UK career history and has the sixth-most points in UK career annals ... UK owns a 10-5-4 all-time record vs. UL and a 6-1-2 record in games played in Louisville, dating back to 1991 ... Jack Van Arsdale notched his first career shutout ... The 5,583 fans at the game marked the largest crowd UK has ever played in front of in the history of the program, eclipsing the 3,568 fans at Indiana in 2001 ... The top-25 win was UK's first since besting No. 15 Brown 5-1 in 2011 ... The win over UL at Cardinal Park was UK's first at UL since 2004.