Josh McCrary Leads No. 20 Soccer to Comeback Win

Sept. 27, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After falling behind 1-0 midway through the second half, the No. 20 Kentucky men's soccer team got a penalty-kick goal from senior Jason Griffiths and a game-winning goal from Josh McCrary in a span of 39 seconds, lifting UK to a 3-1 win over UNC Asheville, amidst sloppy field conditions on Sunday afternoon at the UK Soccer Complex.

Kentucky (7-1-0) improved to 7-0 in non-conference action in 2009 and have now only lost once in the last 17 matches, including a school-record 15-match unbeaten streak that dated back to 2008. The Wildcats improve to 10-0-1 all-time against UNC Asheville, a year after suffering a scoreless tie in Asheville, N.C.

McCrary, a native of Marietta, Ga., came off the bench in the first half in place of UK's leading scorer, freshman midfielder Matt Lodge, who left with an injury.

After UK allowed the go-ahead goal from Bryan Bartels in the 51st minute, McCrary got tackled from behind at the far corner of the 18-yard box, forcing a penalty kick. Griffiths, a native of Bracknell, England, connected on his seventh career penalty-kick goal and his first of the year, beating the keeper high at the near post. In his regular-season career Griffiths is 7-for-7 in penalty-kick attempts.

With the game evened 1-1, McCrary connected with Griffiths on the game-winner, firing a majestic shot from 35-yards out that sailed across the field from the far corner of the pitch, finding the back of the net at the near post. The assist was Griffiths' first of the year and the 10th of his career, with the 2008 first-team All-Conference USA midfielder now charting 32 career points (11 goals, 10 assists). The goal was the first of the year for McCrary, a transfer from Radford.

Kentucky continued to apply the pressure, as George Davis IV lined up for a corner kick in the 83rd frame. Davis' kick sailed right to the head of senior Chad Hagerty, who drilled his line-drive shot past the keeper at the near post. The goal was Hagerty's second of the year and the fourth of his career, a year after the Louisville, Ky., native led the Wildcats with six assists. The assist was the first of the year for Davis, a Lima, Ohio, native.

Kentucky returns to action Tuesday, traveling to Bloomington, Ind., to face off with annual power Indiana at 7 p.m. ET. The Hoosiers enter the game ranked as high as No. 10 nationally.

For the first time in 29 matches, UK was without its preseason first-team All-America defender, Barry Rice, who sat out due to injury. Rice's missed game marks just the second game of Rice's 69-match UK career that he has missed, with his last missed game coming Nov. 9, 2009 against South Carolina, due to card accumulation. Rice started 21 of UK's 21 games in 2006, 18-of-19 UK games in 2008, 21-of-21 UK games in 2008 and 7-of-8 UK games in 2009. Counting Sunday's contest, Rice has started and played in 67-of-69 UK games during his sparkling career.

UK owned a 24-7 advantage in shots, including firing 18 shots in the second half. The Wildcats totaled six corner kicks to UNC Asheville's two, with UK taking four corners in the second half. Griffiths and Tyler Burns led UK with four shots each, with Hagerty firing three shots - all on goal - while coming off the bench in the second half. 

UNC Asheville (3-5-1) got on the board in the 51st minute, as David Wood lofted a cross to the near post, with Bartels firing a line-drive header chest high past the keeper.

With Rice and Lodge out, arguably UK's two top players, and a matchup with Indiana looming Tuesday, UK played a total of 20 players in the game, with newcomers Chris Jumalon, David Harrison, Cameron Wilder, Jacob Kemper and Byron Vega all playing extensively in the contest. Kemper and Vega each fired two shots, applying pressure to the UNCA defense throughout the contest from the UK front line.

In goal, Dan Williams saved four shots with UNCA keeper Lassi Hurskainen saving four UK shots while facing 24 total shots. Forward Bryan George led UNC Asheville offensively, firing five total shots, including three on goal.