Soccer Hosts SMU in Crucial Conference Clash
Nov. 3, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The race for the Conference USA Tournament will come down to the final league match of the season, as the Kentucky men’s soccer team hosts league power SMU, on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.
Kentucky (11-5-0, 4-3-0 C-USA) needs a tie or a win vs. SMU Wednesday to clinch a berth in the 2009 C-USA Tournament, held Nov. 13-15 at the site of the regular-season champion. UAB (5-1-1) and defending champion Tulsa (5-1-1) sit in a tie for the league champion with one match remaining. Marshall (5-2-0) sits one point shy of UAB and Tulsa, with a chance at the league crown, facing UAB in its season finale. Tulsa plays at UCF (2-4-1) Saturday.
The Wildcats are coming off two road wins in the Sunshine State, a 2-1 overtime win at UCF and a 2-0 win at FIU Sunday. UK’s overtime win at UCF came with 34 seconds remaining in overtime, when preseason first-team All-American defender Barry Rice skied to deliver his first goal of the season. In the win at FIU, UK got a goal from C.J. Tappel and Jason Griffiths to improve to 3-0 on the road in league action.
Offensively for UK, freshman midfielder Matt Lodge has totaled six goals and one assist, leading UK with 34 shots and 18 shots on goal, adding three game-winners. Junior midfielder Tyler Burns has added three goals and two assists, while senior Jason Griffiths has three goals and one assist, going 2-for-2 on penalty-kick attempts. Junior C.J. Tappel and senior Marco dos Santos have each charted a team-high three assists, while senior Chad Hagerty has added two goals.
Senior goalkeeper Dan Williams, a four-year starter, has helped UK with a conference leading 0.80 goals-against average, charting five shutouts and 41 saves. In his career, the Fairfax Station, Va., native has totaled 19 shutouts, the third-most in UK history.
SMU (6-6-2, 2-2-2 C-USA) will need a win over Kentucky and a win over FIU in its final two conference games to clinch a spot in the league tournament. The Mustangs have totaled a win at No. 16 Tulsa on Oct. 21, before suffering a tie with UCF on Oct. 31, when UCF allowed two SMU goals in the last five minutes of regulation. As a team, SMU has averaged 16 shots per game and 1.93 goals per game.
Offensively, SMU has been led by Dane Saintus, who has eight goals and five assist in 14 games this season. Paulo da Silva has added five goals and two assists, while Payton Hickey leads the Mustangs with eight assists, adding one goal. Netminder Craig Hill has allowed 18 goals in 12 games, with a 1.46 goals-against average and three clean sheets.
The Mustangs lead the all-time series between the two schools, 5-2, with UK winning the last two meetings after beginning the series with five consecutive losses. UK’s breakthrough win came with SMU ranked No. 1 in 2007, when current UK senior Tim Crone netted two goals off the bench in the second half to lead UK to a 2-1 comeback win. Last year, UK got a 2-1 win at SMU, getting goals from Chad Hagerty and Stephen Beiro for the difference. UK is 1-1 in games played with SMU in Lexington, suffering a setback in 2005.
The game, originally scheduled for Oct. 25 was rescheduled when several Kentucky players displayed flu-like symptoms the week of the match.