Men's Soccer Opens C-USA Tournament with No. 25 Tulsa
MEMPHIS -- Coming off a 2-1 win over South Carolina to close the regular-season on Sunday, the Kentucky men's soccer team will face sixth-seeded and No. 25 Tulsa in the Conference USA Tournament quarterfinals, with kickoff at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis, Tenn., set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Kentucky (7-7-4, 4-2-2 C-USA) needed a win over South Carolina - ranked No. 16 in the latest NCAA RPI - Sunday to secure the No. 3 seed, as opposed to the No. 5 seed. UK got an early goal from defender Brad Walker and after allowing a tying goal to the Gamecocks right after halftime, freshman Brendan Murphy netted his first career goal in the 87th minute to lift the Wildcats to the 2-1 win, avoiding what would have been its school-record 10th overtime contest of the year. On Monday, Murphy was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week.
The Wildcats will face Tulsa in the first round of the C-USA Tournament for the second consecutive year, as the Golden Hurricane bested UK in 2009 in Tulsa. Earlier this year, UK picked up a crucial win over Tulsa on the road, using a dramatic 2-1 comeback win to advance through the C-USA standings. Tulsa, ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation earlier this year, has won the C-USA Tournament and regular-season for two consecutive years. In the game in Tulsa, UK fell behind after a first-half goal, before freshman Tyler Riggs tied up the game with his team-best fifth goal of the year. Sophomore Matt Lodge then lifted UK to the win with a majestic free kick goal.
Tulsa (9-5-2, 3-3-2 C-USA) has been led offensively by Ashley McInnes, who has eight goals and four assists on the year. Austin Neil leads the team with nine goals, adding one assist, while Omar Mata has two goals and three assists. Chris Taylor owns three assists and one goal, while Corey Albertson has two goals and three assists. In goal, Ray Clark and Michael Murray have traded starts, with Clark starting 11 games and logging a 1.23 goals-against average and Murray owning a 1.30 goals-against average in five starts.
UK has been led offensively by Lodge, who leads UK with 11 points on the year, including four goals and three assists. Riggs, a native of Louisville, Ky., leads the team with five goals, while junior college transfer Sam Brooks owns three goals and one assist. Sophomore Jordan Rose has a team-best five assists and one goal, while freshman Ellis Vienne has two goals. Walker and senior Drew Midkiff have each added two assists.
In goal, freshman Tyler Beadle has totaled a 1.15 goals-against average in his collegiate debut. A native of Douglasville, Ga., Beadle has allowed 22 goals in 18 games, saving 59 shots, the 10th-most saves in UK single-season history.