No. 19 UK Soccer Set for Showdown with South Carolina

By Jacob Most
Oct. 24, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The 19th-ranked Kentucky men’s soccer team will look to keep pace atop the Conference USA table when it heads to Stone Stadium for a Saturday showdown with league rival South Carolina. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET.

The match will be broadcast live on SEC Network+.

The C-USA matchup between the Wildcats and Gamecocks is colloquially referred to as the Southeastern Conference Men’s Soccer Championship. The Wildcats and Gamecocks are the only two SEC schools that sponsor men’s soccer.

Kentucky has won four straight games, and is unbeaten in six in a row to take its overall record to W8 L3 D3 (3-0-2 C-USA).

UK’s win over No. 9 New Mexico last week was the team’s fourth win over a top-25 opponent this season. UK has road wins at then-No. 1 Notre Dame and at No. 21 UAB this season. The Wildcats also boast a home win over Xavier in overtime, a team which is currently ranked 16th in the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) poll.

The Wildcats are ranked No. 19 in the coaches’ poll this week, the team’s first time in the top 25 since 2011.

UK’s current six-match unbeaten streak is the fifth-longest in school history.

The Wildcats sit atop the C-USA table on 12 points. Seventh-ranked Charlotte is in second place on 10 points, one ahead of UAB.

UAB will play at Charlotte on Friday night. UAB has a game-in-hand having played four games in conference compared with five games to UK and Charlotte's credit.

UK and South Carolina played to a 0-0 draw in Lexington last season. South Carolina leads the all-time series 5-4-2.

UK boasts one of the nation’s top defenses, highlighted by its 0.41 goals against average, which ranks second-best nationally.

The Wildcats are tied for the second most shutouts in the country on the season (9), and their shutout percentage of 0.64 per game (14 games) ranks eighth in the NCAA.

Senior striker Justin Laird was named Disney Soccer/NSCAA Player of the Week on Tuesday after he scored two goals, including the winner against New Mexico last week. Laird was C-USA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, while junior goalkeeper Callum Irving earned the league’s Defensive Player of the Week award.
   
Irving, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, leads the conference in GAA, shutouts and shutout percentage.