Griffiths, Rice, Williams Named Soccer Team Captains
Aug. 14, 2009
Kentucky's senior captain triumvirate will continue in the same role of 2008, when Collins tabbed the three as team captains. Last season, UK ran up 12 wins, finished second in the Conference USA regular season and tournament, finished the season on a school-record 10-game unbeaten streak and ranked No. 21 in the nation.
"I was really impressed with the job the three of them did last year - Barry, Dan and Griff," Collins said. "They are very different personalities and together they are very powerful as a leadership unit. They have embraced the difficult role as leaders and I look forward to seeing their continued growth. They lead by example and are the backbone of our squad. All three are amongst the best players in our conference and are a regional All-Americans. "
Griffiths, a 2008 first-team All-Conference USA selection in the midfield, has been a key cog for the Wildcats since emerging as an immediate contributor as a true freshman in 2006. In 2008, Griffiths helped lead UK to the 15th-best scoring offense in college soccer.
"Jason Griffiths is widely recognized as one of the top players in our conference, no question about that," Collins said. "He is one of the best midfield players in the country. He is just a quality player; he is a great ball winner, is very comfortable with the ball and covers every blade of grass out there."
A native of Bracknell, England, Griffiths will anchor the midfield for UK, just a year after totaling four goals and three assists. Griffiths fired 31 shots in 2008, with all four of his goals coming on penalty kicks in regulation. In his three-year career, Griffiths is 6-for-6 in penalty-kick attempts and owns 27 career points.
Rice, a preseason All-American and member of the Hermann Trophy Player of the Year watch list, is coming off his second consecutive C-USA Defensive Player of the Year honor. In 2008, Rice became UK's third all-time All-America selection, anchoring a UK defense that ranked No. 31 in the NCAA in goals-against average.
"Barry is good, he is unbelievably athletic," Collins said. "He is great in the air. He has great pace. He is tough, gives 100-percent every game. He is going to have a bright future professionally."
Williams, a native of Fairfax Station, Va., has functioned as UK's keeper since he arrived as a freshman in 2006. A physical 6-foot-2 senior, Williams has etched his name throughout the UK career record book in his three-year career, ranking fifth in career saves, fifth in career shutouts and fourth in career goals-against average. Last season, Williams posted a 0.81 goals-against average, fourth-best in UK season history, charting seven shutouts, the fifth-most in UK season annals.
"In my mind Dan Williams possesses all of the tools necessary to be a quality professional," Collins said. "He is fearless, he makes game-winning saves and dominates his penalty area. His training habits and his work ethic are second to none and he commands all of the respect of his teammates and his opponents. He has been a model of consistency and will only get better"
UK opens its season with two exhibition games, beginning Aug. 24 against Dayton in Lexington at 7 p.m. ET. Kentucky will open the regular season with the UK Invitational, hosting Louisville, Bowling Green and IUPUI in a four-game weekend, Sept. 4-6. UK opens with IUPUI on Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m.