Women's Soccer Takes on No. 18 Louisville
Sept. 8, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Off to the team's best start since the 2007 season, the road doesn't get any easier as the Kentucky women's soccer team (3-1-0) travels to Louisville on Thursday to take on in-state rival and 18th-ranked Louisville in a game nationally televised on Fox Soccer Channel.
Kentucky comes in off a weekend split in the ACC/SEC Challenge collecting a 2-1 win over No. 15 Virginia Tech before dropping a 2-0 decision to No. 14 Wake Forest.
The young Wildcats now take on their in-state rival in a series that was dominated by the Cats early on. Beginning in 1992, the two teams met for five straight years with Kentucky winning all five matches. UK holds a 6-1-1 advantage in the series, however, since the rivalry was renewed in 2006, it's been an evenly played series with each team winning a match (U of L in 2006 and UK in 2009) and playing to a tie in 2007.
UK head coach Jon Lipsitz hasn't shied away from making sure his young team knows the importance of the rivalry.
"I had a difficult decision to make early in the week," Lipsitz said. "With a young team, do you shy away from really explaining what kind of a rivalry this is and how big it is? Or do you tell them and risk them getting tight and nervous. Having been some one that grew up in Chapel Hill with the Carolina-Duke rivalry and coached at Ohio State with the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, one thing I learned is you can try to downplay it, but everybody knows that's not true. And so I made a decision to be very clear; this is a huge rivalry and that's the fun part. And we're not going to be nervous, we're going to be excited; this is why we love athletics. And I want my players to be excited about the opportunity to play a great game and a big rivalry rather than be nervous about it."
Lipsitz himself is 1-0-0 in the series, winning his inaugural match last year 1-0 in Lexington.
"This is part of what makes athletics so exciting. One of the things about sports is the number of people it interests and who follows it. What you have to understand is that in women's soccer, while it's our team versus their team, it's about a lot more than that in rivalries. It's about keeping track of who's ahead in the series from year-to-year by sport; it's about people on different sides of the state arguing; it's about pride. That's the fun part of rivalries. There's no negativity between our staffs, we deeply respect the Louisville staff, they're tremendous coaches and I know they'll be ready. This is not a negative rivalry between our teams, but we know that's not always true between the schools in general and we get that and that's what makes athletics fun."
One player that understands the meaning of the rivalry is UK junior forward Kelsey Hunyadi. Hunyadi played her first two years at Louisville where she was named a third-team All-Big East performer. Following her sophomore season, she transferred to Kentucky, and after redshirting last season, she's off to a hot start, leading the Wildcats in points (six) and goals scored (three).
The Cardinals have gotten off to a hot start themselves, jumping out to a 4-0 record, including a 1-0 win at 13th-ranked South Carolina early on in the season. U of L is outscoring their opponents 11-2 due in large part to their athleticism and quickness.
"They're known for their phenomenal ability to get players behind the ball and counter attack," Lipsitz said. "They certainly have tremendous speed up top to do that. One of the things I've really been impressed with about them is not just their defensive tenacity, but they have a new ability to attack that I think is greatly improved over last year. Their attack is something we're really going to be watching and really going to be working hard to stop."
Scheduled for a 7:07 p.m. ET kickoff, the game will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel. Live stats will also be available at UKathletics.com.