Oct. 21, 2012
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- In his second career start at forward, junior Dylan Asher - celebrating his birthday - recorded the eighth hat trick in program history and netted his fourth goal in the last two games, leading Kentucky to a 5-1 smacking of Florida International, on a gorgeous Sunday evening at the UK Soccer Complex.
Kentucky (8-6-1, 3-1-1 Conference USA) played its second consecutive game without leading scorer Tyler Riggs, with the Wildcats shifting Asher, a two-time All-Conference USA defender, to forward. Asher shined, completing the eighth hat trick in UK history with goals in the third, 41st and 57th minutes before subbing out for the remainder of the game. Asher, a freshman All-America defender in 2010, is the first UK player with a hat trick since Matt Lodge went for three goals in a win over IPFW in 2011. In a 1-0 win at 10-win Marshall on Wednesday night, Asher netted the game-winning goal, his first career score.
"It makes me feel really good," Asher said of his hat trick. "I've been working really hard in training and I'm glad to see the goals pay off."
UK's four-goal drubbing of FIU marked its largest margin of victory in league play since 2008. Before a late-goal for FIU in the 88th minute, the Wildcats were on pace for its largest margin of victory in conference play since 1996.
"This is a game I was a little worried about going in and it means a lot going forward with conference tournament implications," UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. "FIU, we have seen lots of games with them on tape and they were 0-3-1 in conference going in, but if you look at them they outplayed SMU at times so I was more worried than what the result reflected in the end. We just tried to stress to our guys that we knew what we wanted to do, stay compact, be patient and when we get the ball play. The guys have been fantastic every time we are taking a step forward and now we are where we want to be, four games to go and everything to play for."
Kentucky got the three goals from Asher, with his goal just 2:39 into the game marking the ninth fastest goal in program annals. Senior Charley Pettys finished a penalty kick in the 23rd minute - his third penalty in as many attempts - with Dustin Scibilia adding his first career goal in the 79th minute. UK also got assists from Matt Lodge, Bryan Celis, Dylan Murphy, Caleb Richardson and two from senior Gabriel Conelian.
UK keeper Jack Van Arsdale saved one shot for the Wildcats, coming dangerously close to his fourth shutout of the year. UK finished with a 24-7 advantage in shots and a 7-2 mark in corner kicks, including a staggering 17-6 advantage in shots in the second half.
After the Wildcats opened up to a 1-4 record in its first five games of 2012, UK is in the red-hot run over the last 10 games, sporting a 7-2-1 record. During that span, UK has wins at No. 18 Louisville and No. 25 SMU, with its only losses coming to No. 11 Indiana and No. 25 SMU. During that 10-game stretch, UK has a 22-12 goal advantage.
"We stressed all along, especially when we were 1-4 that there is a method to our madness," Cedergren said. "This is preparing us for conference play and it shows that now. Even Indiana was kind enough to come in and spank us 4-1 but every game we are taking steps forward. Even though we lost that game 4-1 there were things we took away that we did really well. Our non-conference schedule definitely prepared us for Conference USA play."
FIU (7-5-2, 0-4-1 C-USA) keeper Robin Spiegel finished with six saves in the game, directing a Panthers defense that saved seven shots in the second half.
UK now owns 10 points in conference play with three matches remaining, sitting in third place overall, behind just SMU and Tulsa, with each having two games left.
The win gives UK a 6-2-1 all-time advantage in the series with FIU, including a 4-0 all-time mark in games played in Lexington.
UK got on the board just 2:39 into the game, as Lodge found Celis, who played a ball to the far sideline for Asher. The native of Richardson, Texas, took a hard-hit, low shot that sailed across the mouth of the goal and into the net at the far post. The assist was Celis' second of the year and the goal marked Asher's second career goal in as many games.
In the 23rd minute, UK mounted an attack that resulted in the second goal of the game. Asher played a ball to Lodge inside the box, who took a hard-hit shot that forced a diving save from Spiegel. Off the rebound, an FIU player was called for a handball in the box, setting up a penalty kick. Pettys finished the penalty to the right, his sixth goal of the season and his third in as many penalty kick attempts.
Kentucky added to its lead in the 41st minute, as Asher connected on his second goal of the game and his third in the last two contests. Murphy played a ball to Richardson, who found Asher for a goal, with Asher finishing past Spiegel.
In the 57th minute, Asher completed the hat trick on a gorgeous goal off a cross from Conelian. Conelian made a run down the far sideline and lofted a cross into the six-yard box. A diving Asher leapt toward the ball at the near post, getting a well-timed header shot over the leaping arms of Spiegel for his third goal of the game.
Kentucky added a goal in the 79th minute, as Scibilia connected on his first career tally. Conelian lofted up a corner from the far end of the pitch, finding Scibilia, who finished it with a header into the center of the net. It marked Conelian's first career multiple-assist game.
FIU got on the board in the 88th minute, as Lucas Di Croce took a free kick from the top of the 18-yard box. Di Croce finished it in the upper 90 for his first goal of the year.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday, traveling to face 10-win Tulsa at 7 p.m. ET.
GAME NOTES: Junior Dylan Asher made his second career start at forward ... Asher recorded his first career multi-goal game and the eighth hat trick in program history ... Freshman Dylan Murphy recorded his first career assist ... Freshman Caleb Richardson notched his first career assist ... Charley Pettys finished his sixth goal of the year and is now 3-for-3 on penalty kick attempts ... UK's goal 2:39 into the game marked the ninth-fastest goal in UK soccer history ... Freshman Bryan Celis recorded his second career assist ... Senior Gabriel Conelian recorded his first career multi-assist game and now has three assists on the year ... Senior Matt Lodge notched his second assist of the year and the 16th of his career, giving him 62 career points ... Dustin Scibilia recorded his first career goal ... Dylan Murphy notched his first career assist ... UK's four-goal win was its largest since a 5-1 smacking of No. 15 Brown in 2011 and was its largest conference win since 2008 ... UK leads the all-time series with FIU, 6-2-1, including a 4-0 all-time record in games played in Lexington.
C-USA Table (through games played on 10/21)
SMU: 5-1-0 (15)
• Left: vs. Marshall (10/28); at Memphis (11/2)
Tulsa: 4-1-1 (13)
• Left: vs. Kentucky (10/27); at FIU (11/3)
Kentucky: 3-1-1 (10)
• Left: at Tulsa (10/27); vs. UCF (10/31); vs. South Carolina (11/4)
UAB: 3-3-0 (9)
• Left: at UCF (10/27); at Memphis (10/31)
UCF: 2-2-0 (6)
• Left: vs. UAB (10/27); at Kentucky (10/31); at Marshall (11/3)
Marshall: 2-3-0 (6)
• Left: vs. FIU (10/23); at SMU (10/28); vs. UCF (11/3)
Memphis: 1-1-2 (5)
• Left: at FIU (10/27); vs. UAB (10/31); vs. SMU (11/2)
S. Carolina: 1-5-1 (4)
• Left: at Kentucky (11/4)
FIU: 0-3-1 (1)
• Left: at Marshall (10/24); vs. Memphis (10/27); vs. Tulsa (11/3)