Soccer Opens SEC Slate against Seventh-Ranked Gators
Sept. 23, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With the pre-conference portion of the schedule behind it, the UK women's soccer team (6-2-0) can now concentrate on Southeastern Conference play, which opens this weekend with Kentucky hosting the seventh-ranked Florida Gators (6-1-1) and 21st-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (6-2-1).
The Wildcats look to reverse their fortunes in SEC lidlifters where UK is 5-10-2. Things seem to be pointing in the right direction for the Wildcats as they've already eclipsed their win total of five from last season and enter the weekend having recorded three straight shutouts.
The Kentucky defense has been particularly stingy at home, having not allowed a goal at the UK Soccer Complex this season, a streak that currently spans 450 minutes. In doing so, the Wildcats have tallied a 5-0 record at home this year.
Senior goalie Sydney Hiance anchors the solid UK defense with four shutouts, which ranks second in the SEC. Her 0.63 goals-against-average ranks fourth in the league and 41st nationally. Overall, the Wildcats 0.63 GAA ranks 31st nationally.
"We've been making a lot of changes in our backline, even today, the day before the game," UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. "While we're doing well, quite honestly, we feel like we're still putting some things together. It's a long season and we're not scared to change things and try things. We really see it as a team within a team, it's not just about four players, it's about six players, it's about eight players. I think what's really good is that it's a group of players and not just one that's playing well and obviously great goaltending behind them."
Florida holds a commanding 16-2-2 advantage in the series, however three of the last four matches have been decided by just one goal. The last time UK defeated the Gators was in the 2006 season when the Cats posted a 0-0 tie in the regular season and then defeated UF in the SEC Tournament championship game.
The weekend marks the fourth straight year that Florida and South Carolina entered the weekend against UK nationally ranked.
"They're the two most highly ranked teams in the SEC," Lipsitz said. "Whether you play them now or you play them later, it doesn't really matter, we're going to play them. We love the challenge. We respect them greatly, but we don't fear anybody. It's a great challenge for us, we're looking forward to it and with our great fans I really think we have a good chance."
In conjunction with the SEC, UK is taking part in the "2010 SEC Together We CAN Drive" benefiting God's Pantry Food Bank. Fans bringing two canned food items will receive free admission.
Kickoff Friday against the Gators is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the UK Soccer Complex. Live stats and blog will be available at UKathletics.com.