Laird's Late Goal gives No. 16 Soccer 1-0 Win at FIU

By Jacob Most at the FIU Soccer Stadium
Nov. 2, 2014

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MIAMI -- The Conference USA regular-season title will come down to the last day and a showdown at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex on the Kentucky campus after Justin Laird's late goal gave the 16th-ranked Wildcats a 1-0 win over Florida International on Sunday afternoon.

The win brought UK back to the top of the C-USA table on 17 points, one ahead of No. 7 Charlotte. The two teams will play for the league title at UK on Friday, beginning at 7 p.m.

Kentucky earned its 10th win of the season, taking its record to W10 L3 D4 (5-0-2 C-USA).
 
Laird's goal came from nothing in the 79th-minute, but the senior striker took his chance well for a team-leading sixth finish of the season. Laird has three game-winning goals this season, including two against ranked opponents.

FIU goalkeeper Robin Spiegel missed his target on the goal kick, playing the ball directly at Laird 35 yards out central, where he did well to control the ball before dribbling into the box, going past the goalkeeper and tapping it into the back of the net.

"It was a good battle in a very important game for both teams," UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. "We had to win to make sure we were in a good spot to play for a league title next Friday, and FIU had to win to stay alive for a place in the C-USA tournament. It was two teams that maybe the occasion got to them a little bit both times. It was a little nervy, but very physical battle.

"It shows C-USA is one of the best leagues in the country because no matter what a team's  record, anywhere you go playing away from home is difficult. For us it's good to get another shutout and good to get another conference win to stay undefeated in the league."

UK extended its unbeaten streak to nine straight-games, as UK is now 6-0-3 during that stretch. The Wildcats undefeated run is the second longest in school history.

UK goalie Callum Irving kept his 10th clean sheet of the season, tying him for the second most during a single season in school-history - level with Andy Gruenbaum. 

The match was a physical battle between two teams with a lot to play for. The Wildcats only put shots on target three times, with one of those attempts ending up in the goal.

FIU forced three saves from Irving, who did well to save them, but wasn't seriously troubled.