Women's Soccer Kicks Off 2013 UK Athletics Calendar Friday Night

Aug 22, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A year after setting multiple program records, and recording the most successful season in the 21-year history of the University of Kentucky women's soccer program, the Wildcats return to action on Friday night in Winston-Salem, N.C., as UK will face the No. 15/10 Wake Forest Demon Decons at 6:30 p.m. ET.

"We gave our players a huge challenge to begin this year," said UK head coach Jon Lipsitz, who will be entering his fifth season at the helm of the women's soccer program in Lexington. "We're going to play Wake Forest, who is a top-15 team. They are going to be (ranked) a lot higher than that at the end of the year. I know their roster very well, I know (Wake Forest head coach) Tony (da Luz) well, so I wanted to start there right away and challenge us."

Kentucky returns nine of 11 starters from a year ago, and also brings back 19 letterwinners from a team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Of those nine starters that are returning to the lineup, seven of them are underclassmen.

UK boasts three captains for the 2013 season, as junior defender Arin Gilliland, senior goalkeeper Kayla King and senior defender Ashley VanLandingham will lead the squad for the season. Captains were selected by Lipsitz in the spring.

The Wildcats return their entire front line from a year ago, which includes Gilliland, Kelli Hubly and Caitlin Landis, who combined for 17 goals and 16 assists in 2012. Gilliland led the Wildcats with seven goals and seven assists for a team-high 21 points.

For her efforts a season ago, and her projected season, Gilliland was named to the MAC Herrmann Watch List for the first time in her career on Tuesday afternoon. The MAC Herrmann Award is annually given to the best NCAA collegiate male and female soccer player and is widely considered to be the most prestigious individual award in the sport.

Kentucky has won all four of its season-opening matches under Lipsitz, who has led the Wildcats to outscore its opponents 11-1 in his four season openers. The match with Wake Forest will serve as UK's second road opener in those four matches, as the Wildcats beat Oakland in Rochester, Mich., 3-0, to begin the 2011 season.

UK all-time is 0-3-0 against the Demon Decons, including the team's last meeting in 2010, where Wake Forest took home a 2-0 win. The two teams met for the first time in the 1998 season as part of the ACC/SEC Challenge in Clemson, S.C., and Wake came away with the 3-2 win in overtime. For the series as a whole, Wake Forest has outscored the Wildcats 5-2, but UK has never been shutout by the Demon Decons. This will be the second all-time meeting in Winston-Salem, N.C., between the two sides. 

"(This match) will be a challenge," Lipsitz said. "But, if we are going to achieve in the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, we've got to find out from the beginning what our strengths and weaknesses are. This is the way we do that. I believe the players come here to want to play a great schedule, and so what a great way to start the season," 

For continuing coverage of UK soccer, log on to UKathletics.com.