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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After netting a pair of goals in the first eight minutes, the Kentucky men's soccer team was forced to play with 10 men for the final 62 minutes of the game but still held on for a 2-0 win over No. 15 SMU on senior day, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at the UK Soccer Complex.
Kentucky (9-9-1, 2-5-0 Conference USA), paced by two first-half goals from seniors C.J. Tappel and Josh Mulvany, withstood a barrage of shots from the potent SMU attack to hold on to the clean sheet despite playing a man down for two-thirds of the contest. The win is Kentucky's third victory over a top-15 ranked opponent this season, also besting No. 9 Michigan and No. 15 Brown earlier in the year.
The Wildcats were paced by the second shutout for sophomore All-Conference USA keeper Tyler Beadle, who saved six shots in the game, getting strong defensive performances from defenders Dylan Asher, Steven Perionovic, Brad Walker and Marco Bordon. The UK defensive performance came against an SMU team that entered the game averaging 1.53 goals scored per game and owning only one loss in its last six games.
UK came out of the gate strong in the first portion of the game, creating several chances before netting the first two tallies. UK was forced to play without its two All-America candidates at forward, Matt Lodge and Tyler Riggs, and sophomore offensive sparkplug Brendan Murphy. With those three attacking players on the bench, UK was without 19 goals and 16 assists combined, a staggering total compared to UK's entire goal-scoring output of 2010, 18 goals.
The win for UK came on senior day, with the Wildcats honoring five seniors, including Sam Brooks, C.J. Tappel, Josh McCrary, Josh Mulvany and Brad Walker. With two goals and two assists in the game, four of UK's five seniors got points in the win, with Tappel notching his second goal of the year on Brooks' second assist of the season. Mulvany's fourth goal of 2011 came on an assist from McCrary, his second of the year. Walker was the lone senior not to earn a point in the game, helping UK to the shutout with his play on the defensive backline.
With UK holding a 2-0 lead in the 28th minute, Mulvany was saddled with a red card after colliding with SMU's netminder. A scrum ensued around a prone Mulvany inside the box following the play and the senior was awarded his first career card. The red card ends Mulvany's UK career, as the senior will have to sit out the final contest of the year in 2011, after getting the card.
The win gives UK a 7-2-1 overall record at the UK Soccer Complex in 2011, with UK's win over SMU marking its fourth win in 10 all-time meetings with the Mustangs. The 2-0 result marked UK's third consecutive win over SMU at home, including a win in 2009 and a 2-1 comeback win over the then-No. 1 ranked Mustangs in 2007 that saw UK get two goals off the bench from Tim Crone.
Kentucky got on the board in the second minute when Tappel stole a ball passed back from an SMU defender to the goalkeeper. Tappel quickly took a touch to the outside and beat Mustangs keeper Jaime Ibarra and calmly placed it in the goal to give the Cats the early 1-0 edge.
Just under seven minutes later, Mulvany got the ball at the top of the box off of a deflection and placed a nifty shot just over the outstretched arms of Ibarra into the goal. The goal was Mulvany's fourth of the year.
SMU (9-6-1, 3-3-1 C-USA) played two keepers in the games, as starter Jaime Ibarra allowed two goals in the first half and Juan Robles made his SMU debut with a shutout second frame. SMU owned a 17-8 advantage in shots and a 8-0 mark in corner kicks, as UK played on its heels for the remaining 62 minutes.
UK concludes its 2011 season traveling to Columbia, S.C., to face South Carolina on Nov. 4, with kickoff slated for 6 p.m. ET.