Rookies Spark Second-Half Comeback Win

Oct. 16, 2013

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky subbed out eight starters to open the second half and rallied from behind for two second-half goals, including the first-career goals from Jacob Scearce and Sam Miller, to post a 2-1 win over Valparaiso, on a rainy Wednesday night at the UK Soccer Complex.

Kentucky (4-6-1) allowed a 13th-minute goal to the Crusaders and fell behind after the first half. With the pitch sloppy from continued rain throughout the day, UK subbed eight of its first-half starters, giving them the second-half off. The lineup switch led to a furious amount of attacking activity, as UK got the first-career goals from Sam Miller and Jacob Scearce, with Scearce also getting an assist and junior Justin Laird assisting on both goals.

UK's energetic youth changed the game in the second half, as underclassmen and newcomers led UK to the comeback win. Freshmen Jason Pitts, Kaelon Fox, Jordan Wilson and Ryan Creel anchored the backline in the second half, with freshmen Miller, Matt Quick, Paul Sime, Cameron Mohseni and Ben Perkins playing the midfield and Scearce and Laird at forward.  

UK rested starters Brad Doliner, Isak Krogstad, Napo Matsoso, Charlie Reymann, Tyler Riggs, Bryan Celis and Steven Perinovic for the remainder of the game after halftime. The Wildcats will return to action on Saturday, traveling to Charlotte - the 2011 NCAA Runner-Up - for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff in a crucial Conference USA matchup.

The Wildcats got on the board in the 58th minute, as Laird made a run down the far sideline, forcing a foul at the edge of the 18-yard box. UK quick started its free-kick chance, taken by Quick, from 25 yards out, with Laird lofting a cross into the six-yard box for Scearce, who skied to fire a header into the back of the net for his first-career goal.  

UK took the lead in the 65th minute, as Laird played a ball to Scearce on the far side of the 18-yard box. Scearce flipped a cross into the six-yard box, finding Miller, who centered the ball before firing a hard-hit shot past a diving keeper and in at the far post.  

Valparaiso (3-5-5) got a three-save performance from goalkeeper Tom Serratore, with UK keeper Jack Van Arsdale, a senior co-captain, allowing just the one goal in his 90 minutes, saving a shot.

The Wildcats finished with the advantage in shots for its 12th game in their first 13 chances, owning a 15-7 advantage in efforts.

Kentucky had a pair of chances to score in the first three minutes, as Reymann fired two shots that forced saves inside the 18-yard box.

In the 19th minute, Krogstad formed an attack down the far sideline, finding a streaking Celis near the endline. Celis, shimmied free on the endline and fired a hard-hit shot at a challenging angle that sailed high of the cross

Valpo got on the board in the 13th minute, as Zev Taublieb found Eric Nieto at the top of the 18-yard box. Nieto fired a long shot that sailed into the net at the near post for his first goal of the year.

Riggs fired his first effort of the game in the 18th minute, getting the ball with good position around midfield and racing the ball down near the six-yard box on the far sideline, getting off a hard-hit shot that sailed wide, across the goal mouth.

In the 37th minute, UK had its best scoring chance of the first half, as Krogstad lofted a corner into the box at the near post, with Steven Perinovic getting a head on it and firing it off the near-side post.

GAME NOTES: Freshman defender Ryan Creel made his first career start ... Senior defender Steven Perinovic had to leave the game for two minutes in the first half due to injury, snapping his streak of 681 consecutive minutes, over eight games, played ... Freshman Matt Quick was UK's first sub of the game, checking in for Perinovic ... Perinovic finished winning 6-of-8 contested header attempts, bringing his season total to 89-for-111 ... UK opened the second half with eight of its first-half starters on the bench ... Sophomore Jacob Scearce notched his first career goal, also getting his first assist of 2013 and the second of his career ... Justin Laird now leads the team with four assists, getting his first career multiple-assist game ... Freshman Sam Miller recorded his first career goal ... Quick notched his first career assist ... UK has outscored its opposition 11-6 in the second half in 2013 ... UK now leads the all-time series, 2-0, winning the first meeting since 1995.