Soccer Releases 2009 Schedule
June 4, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After finishing the 2008 season ranked No. 21 and riding a school-record 10-match unbeaten streak, the Kentucky men’s soccer team has released its 2009 schedule – featuring nine home games at the UK Soccer Complex – head coach Ian Collins announced Thursday.
Kentucky is fresh off a season that saw the Wildcats post 12 wins and finish second in the Conference USA regular and tournament. UK ended the season unbeaten in its final 10 matches, losing only two of its final 17 games. The Wildcats were led by a potent offensive attack that scored 41 goals – third-most in UK annals – and a shutdown defense that tallied the fifth-best goals against average (0.80) in school history.
“We finished last season strong, we lost only two of our last 17 games and finished the year on a 10-match unbeaten streak,” Collins said. “We return, what I think is the real core of that team, and a few new additions will add to the depth and talent level. Everybody is more experienced and focused on doing something great. We have got strong players in every position and I hope we can build on what we did at the end of last season.”
UK’s 2009 slate will feature nine challenging games at the UK Soccer Complex, highlighted by the season-opening University of Kentucky Invitational, pitting Kentucky vs. IUPUI on Friday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET in the home opener. UK will wrap up the tournament Sunday, Sept. 6 vs. Bowling Green at 2:30 p.m.
The following weekend, the Wildcats will travel to participate in the University of Louisville Tournament, facing SIU Edwardsville on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. and the University of Illinois-Chicago on Sept. 13 at noon. UIC is coming off an appearance in the sweet 16, losing in overtime to powerhouse North Carolina.
UK will get its final taste of non-conference action before opening C-USA play, welcoming the always athletic Alabama A&M Bulldogs for a 7 p.m. matchup on Sept. 16. UK will kick off conference action with the Marshall Thundering Herd on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., a year after claiming wins in two matches with Marshall, a 4-0 result in Huntington, W.Va., and a 4-2 win in the opening round of the C-USA Tournament in Dallas.
“We have been in Conference USA for four years and we have four second-place trophies,” Collins said. “I speak for all of us when I say while that might be a nice accomplishment, we are looking to push on and win this league. I think we are very close and it is a good league to win, there are a number of very good teams. The travel is very hard, but for us the goal is to win the conference, just like everybody else, and that is something that we are really working hard to achieve.”
UK will step out of conference play for three straight games, a Sept. 23 road game in Cincinnati at Xavier – scheduled for 7 p.m. UK will then welcome UNC-Asheville at 2 p.m. Sept. 27, before traveling to traditional power Indiana for a 7 p.m. match on Sept. 29. Last season, UK got a late first-half goal from Marco dos Santos, setting up a 1-1 tie with the then NCAA RPI-leading Hoosiers. UK allowed a goal a IU school-record six seconds into the match, but Kentucky goalkeeper Dan Williams charted seven saves in locking down the Hoosiers over the final 109 minutes.
“We are excited about some of our non conference games,” Collins said. “Playing Indiana, Louisville and UIC – those are real competitive teams. We are also hosting a tournament here (UK Invitational – Sept. 4-6) and expect to have a good crowd.”
Kentucky will resume its conference schedule with a two-game homestand, welcoming UAB Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m. and defending conference champion Tulsa at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7. Last year, UK lost at Tulsa in the regular season 2-1, facing the Golden Hurricane in the conference title game in Dallas. UK took Tulsa into penalty kicks with a 1-1 tie but the Golden Hurricane took a 2-0 advantage to start the shootout, winning the conference title.
The Wildcats then hit the road for a three-match road swing, facing Memphis Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET in Memphis. Last year, UK tied Memphis in the regular-season finale, 0-0, getting solid play from Williams and All-American defender Barry Rice.
The rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville will resume after not playing in 2008, as UK travels to Louisville Oct. 14 for a 7 p.m. matchup. UK will then travel to Columbia, S.C., to face South Carolina Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.
One of the biggest wins in program history came during the 2007 season at the UK Soccer Complex, a triumph of No. 1 SMU. UK will again welcoming SMU to Lexington on Oct. 25 for a 1 p.m. match, seeking to extend its winning streak over the Mustangs to three games. Last season, UK got a 2-1 win at No. 22 SMU in Kentucky’s final road game of the season.
Central Florida will round out the month of October, as UK travels to Orlando, Fla., to face the Golden Knights at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28. UK will then face Florida International Nov. 1 in Miami at 1 p.m., before wrapping up the regular-season with a non-conference matchup with High Point on Nov. 8 at 1 p.m.