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TULSA, Okla. -- After falling behind by a goal late in the first half, the Kentucky men’s soccer team used a magnificent goal from Tyler Riggs and a game-winning goal from Matt Lodge in a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over No. 17 Tulsa, the defending Conference USA Champions, on a chilly Wednesday night at Hurricane Soccer and Track Complex.
The win strongly improves Kentucky’s chances at making the league tournament, which takes the top six teams in the standings. UK earned three points in the league standings with the win, moving its total to 11 points, just four points shy of first-place SMU and three points shy of second-place UCF. UK has two conference games remaining with a chance to win the league title, facing No. 5 SMU on Saturday and South Carolina on Nov. 7 in the regular-season finale.
UK is now unbeaten in the last five games, posting back-to-back conference wins over FIU and Tulsa, also tying No. 22 UCF, No. 16 Indiana and Memphis during the five-game span.
Kentucky (6-6-4, 3-1-1 C-USA) fell behind after allowing a goal in the 32nd minute to the high-powered Golden Hurricane. The Wildcats went to halftime and came out inspired in the second half, totaling six shots and applying significant pressure to the TU defense in the second frame.
A native of Louisville, Ky., Riggs got UK on the board with a huge game-tying goal in the 49th minute. Brad Walker flipped the ball to Riggs inside the box after a long ball was played to Walker. Riggs fired the shot past TU’s diving keeper for his team-best fifth goal of the season. The assist was Walker’s second of the year and the third of his sparkling three-year career. Riggs has now scored in two consecutive games, as his goal against FIU was the game winner in the 87th minute.
UK freshmen Riggs and Brendan Murphy combined on a play at the top of the Tulsa box in the 75th minute, setting up a free kick from around 25-30 yards out. Lodge, a native of Rossington, England, took the kick, bending a gorgeous shot into the corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season and his fourth career game-winning goal. In his two-year career, Lodge, a freshman All-American in 2009, owns 10 goals and four assists.
Tulsa (8-5-1, 2-3-1 C-USA) totaled six corner kicks to UK’s two, with the Golden Hurricane totaling an 18-11 shot advantage.
UK goalkeeper Tyler Beadle had another dynamic game, saving five total Tulsa shots in the game, including several crucial saves late in the game. Tulsa goalkeeper Michael Murray finished with three saves in the contest. UK’s Drew Midkiff and Brad Doliner also provided big defensive stops, with Doliner charting a team save in the first half and Midkiff joining Walker on a crucial stop on a corner kick late in the contest.
The Golden Hurricane struck first in the 32nd minute, as Zach Nulisch played the ball into the box for Omar Mata, who flicked a shot at the near post, just past a diving Beadle.
Kentucky will return to action on Saturday night, continuing its two-match road swing. UK will face No. 5 SMU at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, departing from Tulsa on Thursday morning.