Men's Soccer Opens 2009 Season with UK Invitational
Sept. 3, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After wrapping up its exhibition season at Marquette last Friday, the Kentucky men's soccer team will open its 19th season with the annual University of Kentucky Invitational, facing IUPUI in the season lid-lifter, Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.
Louisville and Bowling Green will open the tournament with a 5 p.m. matchup Friday. Sunday, UL will face IUPUI at noon, before UK wraps up the tournament with Bowling Green at 2:30 p.m.
UKathletics.com and Cat Scratches, the official blog of UK Athletics, will offer a live blog of the action Friday night against IUPUI, giving fans the most interactive and complete internet game coverage in collegiate soccer.
Kentucky is coming off a season that saw the Wildcats finish No. 21 nationally and rank 15th in the NCAA in scoring offense and 31st in the NCAA in goals-against average. UK finished 2008 second in the Conference USA regular season and tournament championships, falling on penalty kicks in the title game in Dallas to No. 7 Tulsa.
The Wildcats enter the match riding a school-record 10-match unbeaten streak, dating back to the 2008 campaign. UK finished the season unbeaten from a 2-0 win over No. 18 South Carolina on Oct. 12 through the final match of the season, Nov. 16.
Kentucky suffered two losses in the exhibition season, a 2-1 setback to No. 18 Dayton and a 4-2 loss at Marquette, where the Wildcats played 29 players. UK got two goals from senior midfielder Jason Griffiths during the exhibition season, in addition to a goal from freshman midfielder Matt Lodge.
UK owns a 9-8-1 all-time record in season openers, winning three of the last four and four of the last six lid-lifters. Last year, UK opened up the season in record fashion, claiming a 6-0 win over Central Arkansas and a 5-0 win over Detroit in the UK Invitational, the most goals scored in the first two games in UK history.
The Wildcats return the majority of its roster from a year ago, including 14 letterwinners and 11-of-15 starters. After scoring 41 goals and totaling 41 assists as a team in 2008, UK returns 63-percent of its goals scoring and 66-percent of its assists for 2009.
Individually, UK is led for the second consecutive year by its trio of captains, Griffiths, defender Barry Rice and goalkeeper Dan Williams. Rice enters the season as arguably the most decorated UK player in the 19-year history of the program, becoming the first player in C-USA history to win defensive player of the year in consecutive seasons. Last year, Rice was named just the third All-American in program history and entering 2009, Rice is a first-team preseason All-America selection.
Griffiths, a native of Bracknell, England, is coming off a first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2008. Last year, Griffiths totaled four goals and three assists, netting all four goals on penalty kicks. Offensively, UK returns Chad Hagerty, who led UK and the league with six assists in 2008, and 2008 C-USA Newcomer of the Year, Marco dos Santos, a Brazilian forward who totaled five goals and five assists last season. In addition, senior forward Tim Crone (five goals, two assists in 2008), junior C.J. Tappel (three goals, two assists), sophomore Taylor White (two goals, two assists) and junior Tyler Burns (two goals, two assists) return to bolster the UK offensive attack. On the backline, Rice, sophomore defender Brad Walker and senior Tim Muessig all return after playing in at least 20 of the 21 UK games last season.
In goal, Williams anchors the UK defense for the fourth consecutive season. One of the top keepers in school history and a 2008 National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region selection, Williams has etched his name throughout the UK record book. Williams ranks fifth in UK career history in saves (167), fourth in career goals-against average (1.16) and fourth in career shutouts (14).
IUPUI (1-0-0) is coming off an overtime win against Detroit Tuesday. The Jaguars got goals from Caleb Lindemann and Emile Garcia and assists from Yogi Snider and Derek Craig in the win. Last season, IUPUI finished 8-9-2, including a 3-3 record in the Summit League. Guy (three goals, one assist in 2008), Perez Adaba (three goals, one assist), Nate Ohmer (two goals) and Eric Weigman (one goals, two assists) return to help bolster the Jaguars offensively. In goal, returning starter Tyler Keever, who had three saves against Detroit in the opener, is coming off a 50-save season, posting a 1.26 goals-against average in 2008.