Resilient Wildcats Comeback for 2-1 Win at No. 22 SMU
Nov. 2, 2008
DALLAS -- For the second consecutive match, the Kentucky men’s soccer team allowed a goal just minutes into the game and rebounded with a come-from-behind win for the fourth time in the last five matches, getting the game winner from defender Stephen Beiro in the 44th minute, to lift the red-hot Wildcats to a 2-1 win over No. 22 SMU, on Sunday afternoon at Wescott Field.
Kentucky (10-4-3, 6-1 Conference USA) sits one win shy of equaling the school record for the most conference wins in a season, a 7-1 mark set in 1998 while competing in the Mid American Conference. UK’s 10 wins on the year marks the 13th time in the history of the program the Wildcats have posted 10 or more wins. UK hasn’t achieved 10 total wins in a season just five times all-time and only twice in the last 11 years.
The Wildcats are in the midst of a historic season that has seen just four losses, with three coming on the road at top-25 foes (No. 7 UC Santa Barbara, No. 24 Cal Poly and No. 14 Tulsa). UK has posted memorable results in wins over No. 13 Michigan, No. 22 SMU and No. 18 South Carolina, in addition to a 1-1 comeback draw at RPI-leading Indiana on Wednesday, the 14th-ranked team in the country.
The Wildcats have totaled 35 goals on the year – good for the seventh-best all-time total in Kentucky annals. UK has not lost in six consecutive games, one shy of the school record for the longest unbeaten streak in the 18-year history of the program.
UK has secured second place in the league with the upset win, as No. 8 Tulsa claimed the regular season conference championship with a scoreless tie vs. South Carolina on Saturday. UK’s win gives them a school-best 18 total league points with one conference game remaining, at home vs. Memphis (6-10-1, 3-4 C-USA) on Friday at 7 p.m. ET. Memphis and UCF are tied for the third-place spot in the conference, with a total of nine points. With six C-USA wins in 2008, UK has posted its most wins in the rugged conference since joining as an affiliate member before the 2005 campaign.
The Wildcats owned one all-time victory over the tradition-rich Mustangs entering Sunday, a 2-1 comeback win in 2007 at the UK Soccer Complex, with SMU ranked No. 1 nationally at the time of the win. UK improved its record to 2-5 all-time vs. SMU, with wins in two consecutive matches, both nationally televised on CBS College Sports. SMU was riding a two-game winning streak entering Sunday, with dominating 2-0 wins at UAB and UCF.
Beiro and Chad Hagerty netted goals, with Hagerty’s goal in the 16th minute erasing an early 1-0 SMU lead after the Wildcats allowed a goal in the second minute. The early goal is the second straight game UK has allowed an opponent goal in the first two minutes, after allowing a NCAA record goal in just six seconds on Wednesday at No. 14 Indiana, a 1-1 tie.
With UK trailing early, Hagerty stepped up with a game-equalizing goal in the 16th minute, his first goal of the year and his first since a game-winner in 2007 at Western Kentucky, a span of 26 matches. Hagerty, who leads UK with five assists on the year, collected a rebound and bounced the ball into the net. Forward Marco dos Santos was awarded the assist, his fourth of the year, second best on the club.
In the 44th frame, Beiro connected on his second goal of the year, a header off a corner kick from junior forward Sam Vernalls. Beiro, a sophomore defender from McLean, Va., has totaled two goals on the year and in his career, both headers off corner kicks. Vernalls has four assists on the year, equaling him with dos Santos for second on the team.
SMU (9-5-2, 2-4-1 C-USA) got a goal in the second minute from Arthur Ivo, his third goal of the season.
UK goalkeeper Dan Williams, a three-year starter in between the pipes for the Wildcats, totaled three saves while facing 11 total SMU shots. Hagerty and Michael Strong each led UK with two shots fired. SMU had a 5-2 advantage in corners and a 11-10 advantage in total shots, getting nabbed for one offsides call.
Barry Rice won 9-of-9 contested header attempts in the game.
Kentucky wraps up its regular season with a Friday showdown with Memphis, slated for 7 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.