Soccer Hosts No. 19 Xavier in NCAA Tourney

Nov. 14, 2012

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For just the second time in program history, the Kentucky men's soccer team will host the NCAA Tournament first round, welcoming No. 19 Xavier to the UK Soccer Complex on Thursday for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff. The two teams will be playing to advance to face No. 16 overall seed Indiana on Sunday in Bloomington, Ind.

Kentucky (10-8-2) will face the Musketeers (13-2-5) in the first-round NCAA Tournament game at the UK Soccer Complex. UK is making its fifth all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its second as a host, last appearing and hosting the postseason in 2003.

UK made the NCAA Tournament in head coach Johan Cedergren's first season at the helm of the program, guiding UK to school records in Conference USA postseason awards, top-25 wins and games against ranked foes, and helping UK to its best road record since 1995.

UK ended the regular-season with a No. 25 NCAA RPI, its highest to conclude the season in the modern-era history (2003-present) of the program. The Wildcats had the second-best RPI in C-USA and the second-best strength of schedule (No. 22), with its game against XU marking its 10th game against a top-25 foe in 2012. UK has had a historic year despite battling injuries, as UK had a total of 17 combined goals on the bench during the C-USA Tournament last week in Hoover, Ala., at Regions Park. UK posted a 1-0 win over Memphis in the C-USA opener, before facing regular-season champion, No. 19 SMU in the semifinals. UK got goals from Cameron Wilder and Gabriel Conelian to push the Mustangs to penalty kicks, with SMU advancing to the finals on PKs, 4-1.

The NCAA Tournament game will be streamed live free on, with Neil Price voicing the action. Fans can also follow the action with an interactive live blog from the UK Soccer Complex.

Tickets for the UK men's soccer NCAA Tournament game with Xavier are on sale at or by calling 859-257-1818, with fans able to also purchase tickets at the gate. Olympic Sports Pass holders and faculty and staff employees do not receive free admission due to an NCAA event.

Adults: $7.00
Students (3-18 years old): FREE
Seniors (65+): $3.00
Children (2 and under): $5.00

UK has been led in 2012 by an explosive offensive attack under Johan Cedergren, an attacking system that utilizes a possession-based style. UK has averaged 1.70 goals per game in 2012, totaling 34 tallies in 20 games. UK has averaged 13.2 shots per contest and owns a 124-89 advantage in corner kicks. Defensively, UK boasts a 1.22 goals-against average with six shutouts.

Individually, Tyler Riggs has led UK with 18 points, netting seven goals with four assists on 38 shots. First-team All-Conference USA midfielder Matt Lodge has seven goals and three assists, while senior Charley Pettys has six goals and three assists. Senior midfielder Gabriel Conelian has added five goals and three assists, while third-team All-Conference USA defender Dylan Asher has four goals. Jacob Kemper leads the team with five assists and a goal, while freshman Bryan Celis has a goal and four assists. Cameron Wilder, Steven Perinovic and Dustin Scibilia have each charted a goal, while freshman Kristoffer Tollefsen has two assists.

In goal, junior Jack Van Arsdale - a second-team All-Conference USA honoree - has a 1.11 goals-against average in 18 games, saving 55 shots and charting five clean sheets. Freshman Callum Irving has started three games in the between the pipes for UK, owning a 2.00 goals-against average with a shutout and seven saves.

Xavier (13-2-5, 6-1-2 Atlantic-10) has outscored its opponents 47-19 in 2012, averaging 2.35 goals per game and 16.8 shots a contest. XU has a 120-79 advantage in corner kicks and boasts a 0.90 goals-against average. Xavier has wins over Wright State, Cincinnati, IUPUI, Milwaukee, IPFW, Missouri State, Thomas More, Saint Louis, Butler, St. Bonaventure, Richmond, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Xavier's only two losses came to No. 25 St. Louis - one of two top-25 foes - and a 4-1 setback at Virginia Commonwealth. Xavier has ties with No. 20 Northwestern, Virginia, Dayton, Duquesne and Dayton.

The Musketeers are coming off a 1-0 loss to No. 2 seed St. Louis in the A-10 Tournament in Charlotte, N.C. XU posted a 1-1 draw with Dayton in the opener, before advancing on penalty kicks, 3-2.

Xavier has been led individually by Luke Spencer, who has 13 goals and seven assists, firing 66 shots. Matt Walker has 10 goals and nine assists, while Gino DePauli has six goals and nine assists. Will Walker has added seven goals and five assists, while Adar Cohen has eight assists. In goal, Justin Marshall has played in 20 games with a 0.88 goals-against average, saving 54 shots.

UK leads the all-time series history with Xavier, 6-3, trailing 2-3 all-time in games played in Lexington. UK won the last meeting between the two teams in 2009, a 1-0 result in Cincinnati. Xavier won three consecutive meetings in 1996-2001-2008, before UK's 1-0 win in 2009. UK opened the series with five consecutive wins, including a 2-1 result in the first meeting in the series.

Kentucky owns a 49-69-15 all-time series record against teams in the NCAA Tournament, also owning 3-4-1 mark against NCAA Tourney teams in 2012. The NCAA team UK has played the most in program history, is Indiana, with the Hoosiers owning a 17-1-3 all-time mark against UK.

Kentucky is making its fifth all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats own a 1-4-2 overall record in the NCAA Tourney, with its last appearance coming in 2003. UK's best finish has been advancing to the second round in 2000, 2001 and 2003. UK's lone victory in postseason play came in a 1-0 win over Mercer in Clemson, S.C., in 2001. UK has twice had a NCAA Tourney game go into penalty kicks, with UK defeating Cincinnati in 2003 and Saint Louis in 2000 on penalties, 4-2. UK has hosted one NCAA Tournament game in program history, its PK win over Cincinnati in 2003. In UK's last NCAA Tourney berth, UK posted the PK win over UC in 2003 in Lexington, before falling in the second overtime at fifth-seeded Indiana, 2-1, with the Hoosiers advancing to the Sweet 16.

Kentucky had a school-record seven players earn All-Conference USA postseason awards in a voting on the league coaches. With seven players honored, UK has eclipsed the previous record of six postseason award recipients in 2006 and tied the 2003-04 teams with seven total honorees, coming in UK's time in the Mid-American Conference. Senior midfielder Matt Lodge and junior defender Steven Perinovic were selected first-team All-Conference USA. Junior goalkeeper Jack Van Arsdale and senior midfielder Cameron Wilder were tabbed second-team with junior forward Tyler Riggs and junior defender Dylan Asher selected third-team All-Conference USA. Defender Jacob Speed was named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team.

Kentucky first-year head coach Johan Cedergren took over as the third coach in program history in December. UK opened up the season on the road at a Dayton, a wild 4-3 loss with all goals scored in the second half. The rugged schedule to open didn't stop there, as UK traveled to Columbia, S.C., to face No. 25 Northwestern (L, 1-2 ot) and No. 15 St. Johns (L, 0-1). After securing the first win in the Cedergren era in a 2-0 result vs. St. Joes on Sept. 2, UK again faced a stiff test in No. 4 Charlotte (L, 0-1). That left Kentucky with a 1-4 record to open up and the challenge of traveling to face No. 18 Louisville on the road, in front of 5,583 fans. UK responded with a 1-0 win and has sense changed its season around, boasting a 9-4-2 record since the 1-4 start, with a program-record three top-25 wins on the road.

Kentucky's 2012 season has already been a historic one, as the Wildcats have won the second-most road wins in program history, sporting a 6-2 record on the road. UK leads the conference in road wins, with its six wins away from the UK Soccer Complex the most since UK was 7-2 on the road in 1995.  

The Wildcats currently check in with the No. 25 RPI in the nation, in rankings released on Sunday night. The ranking marks UK's highest pre-NCAA Tournament RPI ranking in the modern-era history of the program (2003-present). UK is the second-highest ranked RPI team in C-USA, behind No. 12 Tulsa and ahead of No. 28 SMU and No. 32 UAB. UK has wins on the road at RPI ranked foes No. 12 Tulsa (2-0), No. 13 Louisville (1-0) and No. 32 UAB (2-1), also drawing No. 28 SMU (2-2) in the C-USA semifinals. UK is 3-4-1 against the NCAA's top-50 RPI teams, including a 2-0 mark against top-15 teams in the NCAA RPI.

Kentucky has played a program record nine games against top-25 opponents in 2012 and with three wins has tied the school record for wins over top-25 foes. UK has wins at No. 18 Louisville, No. 25 UAB and No. 23 Tulsa, owning a 3-5-1 record against top-25 teams in 2012.

After getting off to a 1-4 start under first-year head coach Johan Cedergren, Kentucky has since gone on a torrid pace over its final 15 games to advance to the NCAA Tournament. During that 15-game stretch, UK has a 9-4-2 overall record, including a 5-1-1 mark in conference play. Over the last 15 games, UK has outscored its opponents 27-16, owning a 1.04 goals-against average. UK has twice ran up four-game winning streaks during the 15 games, posting a record three wins on the road against top-25 foes.

Kentucky ranks throughout the C-USA stats, including ranking second in points (95), second in goals (34), third in assists (27) and fourth in goals-against average (1.22). UK also leads the league in corner kicks (124), averaging 6.20 corners per game. Individually, Matt Lodge ranks third in shots (66), sixth in shots per game (3.30), eighth in goals (seven) and third in game-winning goals (three). Tyler Riggs ranks eighth in points (18) and eighth in goals (seven), while Jacob Kemper ranks seventh in assists. Jack Van Arsdale has the third-best GAA (1.11).

One of the key ingredients to the Kentucky turnaround has been the tremendous impact made by the Kentucky newcomers. Several Kentucky freshmen have been instrumental in the UK turnaround, including midfielder Bryan Celis, defender Dustin Scibilia, forward Caleb Richardson, midfielder Kristoffer Tollefsen, defender Jacob Speed and versatile talent Isak Krogstad. Celis, Tollefsen, Speed and Krogstad have emerged as everyday starters, with Speed starting 19 consecutive games at center back. Krogstad, a forward by nature, has shifted to outside back due to injury and in a new system.  

Kentucky had a solid Conference USA Tournament in its seventh all-time conference tournament appearance. UK posted a 1-0 win over Memphis in the league tournament quarterfinals, getting a clean sheet from Jack Van Arsdale and the first career goal from senior defender Jacob Kemper. Kemper's goal came on a majestic strike from 30 yards out on a misfired corner kick from Matt Lodge. In the semifinals on Friday night, UK got the first career goal from Cameron Wilder and a tally from Gabriel Conelian for a 2-2 draw with No. 19 SMU, the regular-season champions. The game went to penalty kicks, with SMU advancing to the finale, 4-1, with UK missing its first two PK chances before getting a successful chance from Lodge.

The Kentucky men's and women's soccer programs are experiencing unprecedented success in the 2012 season. The UK women's program is currently en route to face national seed UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, after a thrilling 1-0 win in the NCAA Tournament opener at the UK Soccer Complex, its second consecutive year hosting. Fourth-year women's soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz has helped transform the program into an annual national contender after coming to UK from Charlotte and installing an exciting new system. UK is one of nine programs in the nation to have its women's and men's programs ranked in the NCAA top-35 RPI.

With the UK soccer programs undergoing unprecedented growth in 2012, the teams will move into one of the best soccer facilities in the nation for the 2013 season. Renderings have been made and the facility is in the designing stage to house both programs in 2013 on the current site of the UK Soccer Complex. UK is working with Luckett & Farley, the largest architectural firm in Kentucky, on the designs of the stadium. The facility renderings include art of the new facility, which is slated to be adjacent to the softball complex as part of a multiple sport pavilion location. The new UK Soccer Complex will be placed at the current location, with a gorgeous new grandstand to take the place of the two groups of stands currently housing fans. Both programs will have a new locker room, lounge, training facility and game day offices underneath the new grandstand, with the press box designed to serve needs of media, television and radio broadcasts, and suites. A pair of convenient walk ways will allow fans and staff to effortlessly move from the soccer to the softball facility.

"We are extremely happy about the designs for the new stadium," UK men's soccer head coach Johan Cedergren said. "This facility will give Kentucky one of the top facilities for collegiate soccer in the nation and combined with a gorgeous new softball facility will really create a wonderful atmosphere off Alumni Drive. President Eli Capilouto, (athletics director) Mitch Barnhart and the UK administration are making a tremendous commitment to the future of our program and our student athletes."

"It is very exciting for us to be able to unveil these facility plans and show off what a wonderful place we think we have planned for UK soccer," UK women's soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz said. "Of course, all of this starts with the support of our administration in Dr. Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart. They have made a distinguished effort to make sure we have a facility that is on par with those in the Southeastern Conference, and I think we have really come up with something special. My staff and I truly thank everyone involved in the planning portion of the design, and we are looking forward to seeing the finished product come to life here shortly."

Kentucky senior midfielder Matt Lodge and junior forward Tyler Riggs have carved out a pair of the most explosive careers in program history, ranking among the tops in the UK record books. In addition to ranking among the leaders in the categories below, Lodge is the record holder with 203 career shots. UK junior keeper Jack Van Arsdale has also began to inch up the career record books for goals-against average.

        1. Greg Kotzbauer, 1991-93 (34g, 5a) - 73
        2. Riley O'Neill, 2003-06 (28g, 16a) - 72
        3. Jamal Shteiwi, 2001-04 (23g, 25a) - 71
        4. Toby McComas, 1993-96 (29g, 11a) - 69
        5. Brian Duasman, 1992-95 (23g, 22a) - 68  
        6. Matt Lodge, 2008-present (24g, 18a) - 66
        7. Tyler Riggs, 2009-present (23g, 9a) - 55

                1. Greg Kotzbauer, 1991-93 (34)
                2. Toby McComas, 1993-96 (29)
                3. Riley O'Neill, 2003-06 (28)
                4. Matt Lodge, 2008-present (24)
                5. Tyler Riggs, 2009-present (23)

                1. Jamal Shteiwi, 2001-04 (25)
                2. Brian Dausman, 1992-95 (22)
                3. Matt Lodge, 2008-present (18)
                GAME-WINNING GOALS
                1. Riley O'Neill, 2003-06 (12)
                2. Toby McComas, 1993-96 (11)
                3. Jamal Shtewi, 2001-04 (9)
                 Matt Lodge, 2008-present (9)
                5. Greg Kotzbauer, 1991-93 (8)
                6. Barry Rice, 2006-09 (7)
                 Tim Crone, 2007-09 (7)
                8. Lee Baker, 1996-99 (6)
                 Tyler Riggs, 2009-present (6)
                1. Greg Raber, 2001-02 (0.85)
                2. Andy Gruenebaum, 2002-05 (0.97)
                3. Dan Williams, 2006-09 (1.06)
                4. Chris West, 1994-98 (1.15)
                5. Brad Samelko, 2000-02 (1.19)
                6. Jack Van Arsdale, 2011-present (1.22)

UK head coach Johan Cedergren brought an exciting new style of play to the Wildcats after accepting the job in December. Traditionally, a physical, defensive minded club, Kentucky has transformed into a possession-based attacking team that is built on speed and athleticism. Playing on one of the best surfaces in soccer, Kentucky's system involves the outside backs having an ability to support the attack, with UK's current outside backs both forwards for their careers before moving to the backline.

Kentucky entered the preseason locked in a goalkeeper battle between UK freshman Callum Irving and junior Jack Van Arsdale. Van Arsdale was the experienced keeper, having started a handful of games in 2011, with Irving entering Lexington as the talented, highly recruited product of Vancouver. A native of Richmond, Va., Van Arsdale won the starting job after the 1-4 start, getting the call in a jaw-dropping performance in a clean sheet at No. 18 Louisville. Van Arsdale has been nails since taking over the starting job for the UL game, owning a 1.04 goals-against average during that stretch with five shutouts.

Kentucky's 2012 season has been a strong one for its senior class, featuring six standouts. UK's senior class includes Gabriel Conelian, Matt Lodge, Bryon Vega, Cameron Wilder, Jacob Kemper and Charley Pettys. The six-player senior class features five everyday starters, with Vega a contributor off the bench on the backline. Lodge, Conelian and Pettys are all prolific scoring threats, with Kemper shifting from forward after his first three years to outside back in Johan Cedergren's new system and excelling. Wilder has been a fixture in the midfield for four seasons and has shined in Cedergren's system and a leader and holding midfielder.

In 2009, UK boasted an All-America defender in Barry Rice. In an effort to find a way to promote a center back who may not get a bevy of scoring chances, the UK sports info office created a "contested headers won vs. contested headers lost" stat to chart his ability in the air. Now a member of the UK coaching staff, Rice suggested in the preseason that UK keep this stat for Perinovic, UK's junior center back. After the first five games, it became readily apparent that Perinovic had the same kind of ability, instincts and timing that Rice had in the air. A native of Delafield, Wis., Perinovic has starred for UK in 2012, earning first-team All-Conference USA honors while leading the youthful UK defense. The junior got his first career goal - in true Barry Rice form - on a header as the game winning goal vs. East Tennessee State on Sept. 19.

When UK head coach Johan Cedergren took the job in December, one of his stated priorities was to involve the alumni as much as possible. Cedergren immediately added former UK stars Marco dos Santos and Barry Rice to his coaching staff, two of the more prolific players in recent program history. Dos Santos serves as the graduate assistant director of UK's soccer operations, while Rice is the undergraduate assistant coach. Dos Santos coordinates all of UK's travel plans while Rice has emerged as a vocal member of the coaching staff, with his knowledge and passion for the program serving as a tremendous asset.

UK head coach Johan Cedergren named Matt Lodge and Cameron Wilder as the co-captains for the 2012 season. Lodge is in his second year at co-captain, while Wilder has emerged as a more vocal presence on the pitch. A native of Rossington, England, Lodge has 23 goals and nine assists in his 73 game UK career, while Wilder has played in 69 games in the midfield with a goal and three assists.

When Kentucky moved from the Mid-American Conference for the 2004 season, the Wildcats were hoping to move from a traditional one-bid league that it had dominated for years, to a more competitive conference. The shift to C-USA has proved to be a wise one over the last three years, as four teams have made the NCAA Tournament in each season. With UCF, Memphis and SMU leaving C-USA for the Big East, C-USA will add three strong teams for the 2013 season, including Charlotte (No. 17 in RPI), Old Dominion (No. 24) and New Mexico (No. 10).