No. 13 UK Soccer Set to Play #5 Charlotte for C-USA Title

By Jacob Most
Nov. 5, 2014




LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Conference USA regular-season championship in men’s soccer has come down to one game. Thirteenth-ranked Kentucky and No. 5 Charlotte will play at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex with the conference title on the line.
   
THE QUOTE
“We’ve put ourselves in a place where we have everything to play for still. We need to finish strong. The Kentucky men’s soccer program hasn’t won a title since 2004, so it’s about time for us to do it again.”
– UK head coach Johan Cedergren.

THE SET UP
UK can claim the Conference USA Championship with a win or draw. Charlotte must win to claim the regular season crown.

With one game to play, UK sits atop the C-USA standings with 17 points, one ahead of Charlotte. No other C-USA team is in contention for the title.

The match will begin at 7 p.m. ET, and be broadcast on SEC Network+ with Neil Price (play-by-play) and J.D. Stephenson (color commentary) on the call.

Admission is free.

The game – UK’s last scheduled home appearance – is Senior Day, with Justin Laird and Dmitri DeChruch Silva set to be honored before opening kickoff.

The game has also been designated as Fan Appreciation Day. Multiple promotions are planned to thank members of the Big Blue Nation for their support of the team, as fans have flocked to The Bell in near record numbers this season.

UK has attracted 9,589 fans to its brand-new home this season. The 10,000th fan to enter the gates of The Bell will receive a UK men’s soccer prize pack.

UK polled fans on their favorite promotional item giveaway from earlier in the season. By popular demand, the UK marketing department will give out Blue-vuzelas (blue vuvuzelas ) to the first 500 Cats fans at The Bell.

Additionally, UK students can get a free ride to the game starting at 6 p.m. with pickups at two locations on campus – in front of the UK ticket office on Lexington Avenue, and at “The 90” on Woodland Avenue.

The UK men’s soccer program will also provide a free tailgate for students, including food and water, in front of the gates to The Bell.

KENTUCKY
Kentucky, with a 2014 record of W10 L3 D4 (5-0-2 C-USA), is unbeaten in nine straight-games, 6-0-3 during that stretch. The Wildcats undefeated run is the second longest in school history.

The UK men’s soccer team reached an all-time high ranking, No. 13, in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll on Tuesday.

The ranking is tied for the highest national ranking in UK history, and the highest ranking since finishing the 2006 season at No. 13.

The Wildcats checked in at No. 25 in this week’s NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) for the second-consecutive week. UK is ranked No. 16 by Soccer America and No. 14 by College Soccer News.

UK’s .706 winning percentage is the third highest in school history and the highest since 2006 (.714). The record is held by the 1995 team that won at a 75-percent clip (16-5-1).

Kentucky has ridden an elite defense and opportunistic offense to the top spot in C-USA with one game to play.

Kentucky’s 0.55 goals-against average leads the conference and is the best in program history. The Wildcats have allowed just 10 goals this season, compared with the 23 they have scored.

The Wildcats' defense has been even stingier in conference play, only allowing goals in two of its league games.

THE OPPONENT
Charlotte, 13-2-1 (5-1-1 C-USA), has won three games in a row, and is unbeaten in its last four.

Charlotte has played UK three times previously, having won all three.

The 49ers boast one of the nation’s most lethal offenses. Charlotte averages 2.31 goals per game, which is the fifth best output in the NCAA.

Charlotte has scored 37 goals this season, which ranks seventh in the nation and allowed just 13.

Striker Kyle Parker leads Charlotte in goals with eight, the second most in the C-USA.

SUMMING UP
Friday’s game matches two of the nation’s most in-form sides with UK riding a nine-match unbeaten run, and Charlotte having won its last three games.

Both teams will know what they have to do. Charlotte has to win, while UK has the advantage of knowing it can settle for a draw and still lift the trophy.

“We were voted to finish sixth in the Conference USA by the coaches in the preseason poll, so to be able to finish either first or second, which we are now assured of, is nice,” Cedergren said.