Women's Soccer Opens UK Athletics Calendar on Friday
SEATTLE, Wash. - The University of Kentucky women's soccer team will kick off the 2014-15 UK Athletics calendar year on Friday night with a match against the Washington Huskies at 10 p.m. ET at the Washington Soccer Complex in Seattle, Wash.
The Wildcats are returning nine starters back to the pitch for the 2014 season from a team which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season under head coach Jon Lipsitz, who enters his sixth season at the helm of the Wildcats.
Arin Gilliland headlines the 2014 season for the Wildcats, as the two-time All-American and three-time All-SEC player returns for her final season as a Wildcat. Gilliland will go down as one of - if not - the greatest - player in University of Kentucky women's soccer history. With a full season of eligibility remaining, Gilliland has already broken single-season records in shots, and in 2013 ranked in the top five in goals, assists, points. In her career, Gilliland is poised to come close to school records in shots, goals, points, assists, shots, games played and minutes played. Gilliland has been named First Team All-SEC all three years of her career thus far, an NSCAA All-American as well as being named to U23 UWSNT National Team Camps, training with the NWSL's Portland Thorns and the winner of the Collegiate Women in Sports Award's 2014 HONDA Inspiration Award. Gilliland has eight game-winning goals in her career in over 5,000 minutes on the pitch.
For the first time in program history, Kentucky is starting a season in the Pacific Time Zone, as a part of the Wildcats 10-day west coast swing for the preseason. The Wildcats arrived in Portland, Ore., on Thursday, Aug. 14 and spent five days training at Nike World Headquarters, while also collecting a 3-1 exhibition win over the No. 11 Portland Pilots on Saturday night. In addition, the team was able to attend the Portland Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC match at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon.
In UK's 3-1 win, Kentucky outshot Portland 18-6, while only conceding one corner kick, while earning four. The Wildcats got goals from returning SEC All-Freshman team member Zoe Swift, and newcomer Kelly Novak. Junior Cara Ledman, and sophomore transfer Michaela Dooley tallied assists in the matches, joining Gilliland as the three assisters in Saturday's showdown attended by 1,084 fans.
Kentucky returns all of its back four from a season ago as sophomore center back Kaitlin Miller joins juniors Kelli Hubly (right back), Olivia Jester (center back) and Cara Ledman (left back) from a back line that allowed just 29 goals in 21 matches last season. The back four of Ledman, Jester, Hubly and Miller started 18 of UK's 21 matches a season ago, with all three playing over 1,000 minutes last season.
Junior Courtney Raetzman returns to the pitch at 100 percent health in 2014 and is joined by senior All-SEC performer Stuart Pope and Alex Carter in the midfield, which under Lipsitz, is known for producing offensive firepower. Raetzman, who was All-Freshman SEC in 2012 missed the second half of the 2013 season with a leg injury before returning to the lineup for the NCAA Tournament first round match with Ohio State, a 3-1 UK win.
Up top, UK is considered to have one of the best offensive front three in the Southeastern Conference, as Gilliland joins Swift and Dooley, a threesome that scored over 25 goals a season ago, and accounted for over 75 points. Dooley, a transfer from San Diego University in the offseason, will start up top as the right forward with Gilliland flanking the left side, and Swift manning the middle of the pitch for the Wildcats.
Washington is entering the 2014 season with six of 11 starters back from a team that went 7-9-4 last season and did not advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies' Katie Bennet is their leading returning goal scorer from 2013, where she tallied four goals and one assist for a total of nine points.
Kentucky is 4-1 in season-opening matches under Lipsitz, with his lone defeat in a season opener coming at No.10 Wake Forest, 3-1, last season in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Live video will be available for Friday's match through the Washington Huskies athletics website.
Friday's match will be followed by a match against Seattle U on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 3 p.m. ET.
For continuing coverage of UK women's soccer, log on to UKathletics.com.