Miller's Late Header Give No. 24/18 UKWS Sixth-Straight Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky women's soccer team finished off the regular season with its sixth win running, as sophomore Kaitlin Miller scored her first-career goal off of a corner kick in the 85th minute to rescue the No. 23 Wildcats against the Alabama Crimson Tide, 2-0, on Senior Night at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.
Kentucky 13-5-0, 8-3-1 SEC) finishes the season in third place in the Southeastern Conference, and will be the No. 3 seed in the 2014 SEC Tournament next week in Orange Beach, Ala. The Wildcats received a first-round bye, and will face No. 6 seeded Auburn at 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday live on the SEC Network. Kentucky defeated Auburn 2-1 in Lexington on Sept. 28.
"It feels great, but I'm not sending them (seniors) off. We've got a lot more to do," UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. "One of the great things about our leaders is they're servant leaders and they give back to the team and teach the team. But now that the game is over it's about them. That's why I said I wouldn't be interviewed and wouldn't stand here without them. Special day. We weren't very good. I think both teams gave the ball away too much. It wasn't an aesthetically pleasing game, but sometimes you have to find a way to grind it out. These are the exact wins earlier in the year that were losses. We just didn't grind out the difficult ones and I think that's part of our big change."
Junior Cara Ledman swung the game-winning goal in from the left-hand side on the final of seven second-half corner kicks for the Wildcats. The ball was struck with her boot and landed right in the six-yard box where Miller struck a head onto it and put it back to the near post for the 2-1 lead in the 85th minute.
Kentucky has numerous opportunities to close out the match early, including sophomore Zoe Swift beating the keeper 1v1 from 30 yards out and getting behind the defense before missing the net and striping it off the right woodwork.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead early in the match on sophomore Jade Klump's team-leading eighth goal of the season in the 11th minute. Klump took advantage of an Alabama back four mistake, intercepted the pass at her foot, stole it and went 1v1 with the keeper, pushing it past her high and off the crossbar, hitting the woodwork and falling in.
Alabama (10-6-3, 5-4-2 SEC) responded just two minutes later in the 13th minute as Maruschka Waldus scored her third goal of the season off of a set piece to equalize for the Crimson Tide. Waldus hammered home a Laura Lee Smith long-range ball that was flicked on in the box to the far post by Merel van Dongen to square the match.
The goal against UK keeper Taylor Braun came as the first goal in 462 minutes, a stretch of six matches, allowed by the UK back line. The stretch of time, which stands over seven hours of play is a new school record, breaking the previous record set earlier in the season (367).
Braun made a number of fantastic saves to keep the game level for a majority of the night, including two diving saves to her right in the 48th and 66th minute.
For continuing coverage of UK women's soccer, log on to UKathletics.com.