Soccer Opens Regular-Season with UK Invite

Cat Scratches: Men's soccer will try 'get above hump' with youth

Cat Scratches VIDEO: Youthful men's soccer team begins season Friday

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After posting a pair of wins and scoring five goals in three exhibition games during the preseason, the Kentucky men's soccer team will open its 19th season with the annual University of Kentucky Invitational Tournament. IUPUI and UNC Asheville will open the tournament on Friday at 5 p.m. ET, before UK will face Eastern Illinois in the regular-season opener at 7:30 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.

The weekend tournament will feature IUPUI and UNC Asheville in the first game on Friday at 5 p.m. ET and the UK-EIU game at 7:30 p.m. ET. On Sunday, the UKIT will continue with UNC Asheville taking on Eastern Illinois at noon, before UK faces IUPUI at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The Wildcats had an excellent preseason, playing three exhibition tune-ups in a five-day span. Last Monday, UK traveled to Dayton, Ohio, and posted a 2-1 comeback win over the Flyers, getting goals from freshmen Tyler Riggs and Ellis Vienne. The Wildcats then traveled to Memphis, Tenn., to play in an international friendly against storied Brazilian club Botofogo's under-19 squad on Wednesday. UK was victorious in the 1-0 decision, as sophomore Jacob Kemper netted the difference. In the final exhibition game of the preseason last Friday, UK got a pair of goals from senior Drew Midkiff in a 2-2 draw with Marquette.

Kentucky has been locked in a preseason battle for the starting goalkeeper position, as UK has had a four-way competition to replace four-year starter Dan Williams. Freshman Tyler Beadle got the start in all three preseason games, with Kevin Corby, Joseph Peglow and John Guadarrama battling for playing time.

Last year, Kentucky posted 13 wins, including a 5-3 record in Conference USA action. The Wildcats opened the season red-hot, ascending to No. 13 in the middle of the season. After opening C-USA action with three one-goal losses at home, UK was in the position of needing to win its final five league matches - including four on the road - in order to qualify for the league tournament. UK did just that, posting five consecutive conference wins to secure a conference tournament berth.

UK returns its leading scorer from last season, sophomore Matt Lodge, who totaled six goals and two assists as a true freshman in 2009, including a team-best three game-winning goals. UK also returns all-conference performer Brad Walker, who has been a fixture on the UK backline the last two seasons. In 2009, Walker helped lead UK to a C-USA-pacing 0.78 goals-against average.

UK owns a 10-8-1 all-time record in season openers, winning four of the last five and five of the last seven lid-lifters.

Head coach Ian Collins

Junior defender Brad Walker

Sophomore forward Cameron Wilder