Women's Soccer Through To First-Ever Sweet 16
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - For the first time in program history, the University of Kentucky women's soccer team advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 with a 3-1 defeat of the Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday afternoon at Klöckner Stadium, behind goals from sophomore Courtney Raetzman, sophomore Zoe Swift, and junior Cara Ledman.
"This is obviously a very special moment for our program here today," UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said, who takes his first team into the Sweet 16 as a head coach. "We came here to win games, and this is one. I thought that we played very well today and I am very proud of the kids for taking the changes that we made in training and trusting us as a staff. They executed the game plan very well, and they should be rewarded for that. Also a big congratulations goes out to Arizona State as well for a fantastic season. We have a lot of respect for their program, and wish them nothing but the best."
With the win, Kentucky advances into the Sweet 16, where it will play the winner of (2) Virginia/Rutgers on Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. ET at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville.
Kentucky played very well on Friday, dominating the match in both possession, on the scoreboard, and in the stats. The Wildcats outshot the Sun Devils 12-9 on the afternoon, with UK recording six shots on goal. UK had four corner kicks in the match, while holding the Sun Devils to just one corner the entire match.
UK started off strong, scoring in the fifth minute, as Courtney Raetzman scored her seventh goal of the season to put the Wildcats ahead early in the match. Raetzman was fed a great service from sophomore Jade Klump, who got end line down the left side and served in the ball to the box, where Raetzman was there and unmarked in the slot for the open header. The header went back across the body of the goalkeeper and put UK up 1-0 in the early going.
Arizona State would equalize in the 50th minute as Whitney Kanavel scored her second goal in as many matches, launching a ball from 30 yards out that bounced underneath the crossbar, and fell through into the back of the net. The goal was one of just nine ASU shots allowed by the Kentucky defense.
Kentucky would respond brilliantly, as Zoe Swift notched her sixth goal of the season just three minutes later, as the assist would come from Courtney Raetzman. Raetzman played the ball from the center of the park dangerously twords the top of the box and wide, where Swift beat her girl 1v1 with speed, and got the corner on the defender. Then it was left to the goalkeeper, who dove for it, but not before Swift was able to poke it past her with her boot and slot it into the back left of the net for the 2-1 lead.
UK would add a third goal in the 66th minute, as junior Cara Ledman scored from 10 yards out after a great build-up play from the UK back line. There was a quick restart off of a foul called by the UK midifield, who then moved the ball around before finding wide back Cara Ledman who was on the left flank about 20 yards out from goal. She took two touches, beat her defender and was in, as there was no secondary defense on the Franklin, Tenn., native. Ledman then ripped one into the far post for her third goal of the season, to put UK up 3-1.
Arizona State wouldn't have any more great scoring chances the rest of the way, as the Wildcats closed out the game well with the help of Kelli Hubly and Allie Gorgol up top chasing the ball and putting immense pressure on the ASU back four.
For continuing coverage of UK women's soccer, log on to UKathletics.com.