UK Soccer to Open C-USA Tournament vs. South Carolina

By Jacob Most
Nov. 11, 2014

NORFOLK, Va. – The 18th-ranked Kentucky men’s soccer team will begin the 2014 Conference USA Tournament against South Carolina on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET. The tournament will be hosted by Old Dominion.

THE SET UP
Kentucky is the No. 2-seed in the tournament, while South Carolina is seeded seventh. Fourth-ranked Charlotte is the top seed.

The winner of the game will face the winner of the UAB-Marshall match in the semifinals on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s game will be broadcast online on the C-USA Digital Network.

Kentucky finished the regular season with a record of W10 L4 D4 (5-1-2 C-USA). South Carolina is 8-9-0 (3-5-0 C-USA).

KENTUCKY
Kentucky has three wins against current RPI Top-30 teams, including road victories at No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 26 UAB. The Wildcats are 5-3-3 vs. RPI Top-100 Teams.

UK concluded the regular season 6-1-3 in its last 10 games. UK finished second in Conference USA, with a record of 5-1-2. The one loss came at the hands of RPI No. 3 Charlotte by a 2-1 margin.

Kentucky is ranked No. 18 by the NSCAA. The Wildcats have spent six weeks in the poll (four ranked, two receiving votes). 

Three of Kentucky’s losses have been by one goal to top-25 RPI teams, with all three teams ranked in the top-15 of the NSCAA poll at the time of the matches.

UK went on a nine-match unbeaten run from Sept. 23 to Nov. 2. The Wildcats were 6-0-3 during that run, including wins over then-No. 21 UAB on the road and against then-No. 9 New Mexico at home.

The Wildcats defense allowed 12 goals all season, six of them having come in conference play. UK finished the regular season with a +12 goal margin.

Kentucky registered a C-USA-best 10 shutouts this season (8-0-2).

The Wildcats rank eighth in the NCAA in goals against average, allowing just 0.63 goals a game, which was also best in the C-USA.

Kentucky has notched three victories over then-top-25 opponents this season (No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 9 New Mexico and No. 21 UAB).

Goalkeeper Callum Irving led C-USA and ranks 12th nationally in save percentage (.836), while tying for third in NCAA with 10 solo shutouts.

Irving was voted C-USA Player of the Year, Defensive MVP and  claimed league’s Golden Glove Award (most shutouts) on Tuesday. UK third-year head coach Johan Cedergren was voted C-USA Coach of the Year.
UK had five All-Conference selections, including three players named to the First Team (Irving, Jordan Wilson and Napo Matsoso). Justin Laird was named to the second team, and Kristoffer Tollefsen was named to the third team.

Two of UK’s freshmen, Stefan Stojkovic and Hampus Agerstrom, were named to the C-USA All-Freshman team.

SOUTH CAROLINA
The Wildcats defeated the Gamecocks in a 4-3 wild double-overtime thriller in Columbia, South Carolina on Oct. 24.

Ryan Creel scored with one minute remaining in the second OT to win it for UK after the Wildcats surrendered a three-goal lead in the final 30 minutes, while playing with a one man advantage.
   
UK and South Carolina are tied in the all-time series – known as the Southeastern Conference Men’s Soccer Championship – at 5-5-2.

SUMMING UP
Kentucky enters Wednesday's match coming off its first loss since Sept. 23, last Friday, 2-1 against an elite Charlotte team.

The Wildcats have reached the C-USA Tournament semifinal each of the past two years.

UK will not lack for motivation coming off its first loss in nearly two months, and entering the single-elimination, postseason, portion of the year.