UK Men's Soccer Hosts Oakland in NCAA First Round
By Jacob Most
Nov. 19, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 24 Kentucky men’s soccer team will take on Oakland University (Michigan) in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.
THE SET UP
The winner of Thursday's match will travel to East Lansing, Michigan, for a Round of 32 matchup with third-seeded Michigan State, which received a first-round bye, on Sunday.
Tickets are available from the UK ticket office for $8 for adults, $5 for youth (ages 2-18), and $3 for seniors (ages 65+).
UK students with valid ID will be provided a free ticket, courtesy of UK Athletics, by checking in at the marketing gazebo at the main entrance. Fans may purchase tickets in advance by ordering online or by calling (800) 928-2287 beginning Tuesday, November 18. Fans may also purchase tickets in person beginning at 5:30 pm Thursday at the soccer ticket windows. All sales at the soccer complex are CASH ONLY.
Oakland has a 2-0 win over then-No. 10 Michigan State this year, while UK’s NCAA résumé was crowned by a win over top-seeded Notre Dame in September.
Kentucky, with a 2014 record of W10 L5 D3 (5-1-2 Conference USA), will be making the sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
Kentucky’s best NCAA Tournament finish was a Sweet 16 in 2000. UK is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last three seasons. The Wildcats dropped their most recent NCAA Tournament game, 1-0 to Xavier in overtime in 2012.
Kentucky has now made the NCAA Tournament in two of head coach Johan Cedergren’s three years at the helm of the program. Cedergren reached two NCAA Tournaments in quicker succession than any other coach in UK history.
The UK coach was named 2014 Conference USA Coach of the Year. The Wildcats are led on the field by 2014 C-USA Player of the Year, Defensive MVP and Golden Glove award winner Callum Irving.
UK has a 1-5-2 record in the NCAA Tournament all-time.
UK concluded the regular season 6-2-2 in its last 10 games.
The Wildcats finished second in C-USA, with a record of 5-1-2. The one loss came at the hands of RPI No. 6 Charlotte by a 2-1 margin.
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.
Kentucky is 3-4-3 against teams that made the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Oakland (9-6-3, 5-0-3 Horizon) enters the 2014 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament as the champions of the Horizon League in both the regular season, and the conference tournament champion. This season marks the Golden Grizzlies sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and first since 2010.
OU defeated Wright State 2-1 on Saturday to punch its ticket into the field of 48. Oakland is led offensively by Matt Dudley, who has three goals and six assists this season, while also notching three game-winning goals.
Wes Mink is the full-time starter in the net for OU, who has a GAA of 0.93 and a 9-4-3 record. The Golden Grizzlies have suffered just one defeat in their last 13 matches.
Despite neither teams being seeded nationally, both have earned impressive wins against elite teams this year. Given the teams' respectively impressive résumés, the winner of Thursday's match could be a prime candidate to make a run deep into the Tournament.
But the task at hand on Thursday will supersede any visions of grandeur for either side. The forecast calls for a frigid evening contest, with heightened tension, between UK and Oakland at The Bell.