Matt Lodge Lifts No. 22 Soccer to School-Record Start
Sept. 16, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Freshman midfielder Matt Lodge netted his fourth goal in five games to lead the No. 22 Kentucky men's soccer team to a 1-0 win over Alabama A&M, equaling the best start to a season in the 19-year history of the program, in front of 960 fans on an overcast Wednesday night at the UK Soccer Complex.
"I thought it was a tough, clean game and both teams gave a real physical effort," UK head coach Ian Collins said about his 196th career victory. "Alabama A&M got fatigued at the end of the game and we had a lot of good chances to stretch out lead, it was just one of those nights. Credit goes to Alabama A&M, they hung around. That is a sign of a good team, that we didn't play our best and found a way to win. Now we need to concentrate on getting ready for the conference season Sunday."
Lodge, a native of Rossington, England, collected his fourth goal in his fifth career collegiate game. The reigning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week, Lodge notched his second consecutive game-winning goal in the 26th minute, netting a free kick from over 30 yards out. In his last game Sunday, Lodge scored both of UK's goals in a 2-1 comeback win over SIU-Edwardsville. In Friday's win over No. 19 UIC, Lodge got his first career assist. Lodge led UK with four shots in the game, including a club-best two on target.
"Credit goes to Matt Lodge," Collins said. "He was feeling awful today, battling a bit of sickness. He really showed some toughness and guts to play as hard as he did tonight."
The win equals the best start to a season in the 19-year history of the program, equaling the 5-0 start the 1995 UK club charted. The 1995 team finished with a school-record 16 wins. UK's win improves the Wildcats school-record unbeaten streak to 15 games, dating back to Oct. 8, 2008, a setback at then-No. 14 Tulsa. The Wildcats have not lost a home game since Oct. 4, 2008 against Xavier.
Kentucky (5-0-0) dominated throughout the game, holding a 16-3 advantage in shots and a 5-1 mark in corner kicks. UK keeper Dan Williams collected his 16th career shutout, good four fourth-best in UK career history. Williams, a native of Fairfax Station, Va., needs six more shutouts to equal the school record.
Alabama A&M (1-5-1) keeper Paul Musoke played extremely well in goal for the Bulldogs, saving six shots, including several diving stops of UK threats. Forward Abraham Kassaye led AAMU with all three shots.
The win evens the all-time series between the two schools, 4-4-1, with the Wildcats posted a 4-0-1 record in the last five matches. AAMU won the first four meetings in the series. Last year, AAMU came to Lexington and the two teams battled through a scoreless double-overtime draw.
Kentucky got on the board first with a goal in the 26th minute, as Lodge connected on a free-kick goal from about 30 yards out. Lodge took the shot, firing a hard hit, low-lining ball through traffic, with Musoke fielding the ball, but the velocity of the shot, combined with Lodge's spin on the ball, allowed it to sneak through his grasp for a UK goal. The goal was Lodge's team-high fourth of the year and was his second free-kick goal from 30 or more yards away in the last two games. Monday, Lodge was named to the Soccer America National Team of the Week, in recognition of his two-goal, one-assist performance last weekend.
UK preseason first-team All-America defender Barry Rice won 4-of-7 contested header attempts in the game, improving his season total to 44-for-51. Rice, a member of the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy National Player of the Year Watch List, fired one shot in the contest.
Kentucky returns to action Sunday, hosting Marshall at 7 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex. The game will mark the first conference match of the year.