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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Facing the possibility of its school-record 10th overtime game of the season with the game tied 1-1 in the 87th minute, freshman Brendan Murphy netted his first career goal to lead the Kentucky men’s soccer team to a dramatic 2-1 win over South Carolina, in the regular-season finale on senior day Sunday at the UK Soccer Complex.
Kentucky (7-7-4, 4-2-2 Conference USA) was on the verge of playing its 10th overtime game of the year with the game tied 1-1 just minutes before the end of regulation. UK scored first in the game, using the first goal of the year from junior defender Brad Walker seconds before halftime. South Carolina, ranked No. 16 in the latest official NCAA RPI, came out and got a goal just after halftime from star Blake Brettschneider to even up the contest.
Things looked to be heading for extra time when Murphy took the ball on the far side of the pitch, dazzling through the South Carolina defense and running into the box, leaping an attempted sliding tackle and darting through a bevy of Gamecock defenders. Murphy, a freshman from Tamworth, England, worked his way through the defense before firing a hard-hit shot at the near corner of the 18-yard box, finding the near post for the game-winning goal.
Walker, a native of Sydney, Australia, got UK on the board first just 55 seconds before halftime. Lodge lined up for a free kick from just at the far corner of the 18-yard box, sending a hard-hit ball into the box, where Rose flicked it on his back heel to Walker, who pounded it home for his first goal of the season. The assist for Rose was his team-best fifth of the year and Lodge’s third of the season.
The win for UK secures the No. 3 seed in the C-USA Tournament for the Wildcats, who will face off with two-time defending league champion Tulsa on Wednesday at the University of Memphis.
South Carolina (9-6-2, 4-3-1 C-USA) got on the board in the 47th minute, as Mike Mangotic took a corner kick for South Carolina, with Brettschneider taking a shot inside the 18-yard box that was deflected by a UK player. The ball bounced wrong off his foot and into the open spot in the goal, past a diving Tyler Beadle.
Lodge, a native of Rossington, England, stood out as the dynamic player in the game, enforcing his will on the tempo of the contest and leading a potent UK attack in the final 20 minutes of the game. Lodge finished with a game-best four shots, with three coming on target. Dylan Asher totaled three shots, including two on goal, while Murphy and Walker each had two shots.
In goal, Beadle saved one shot, getting solid performances from his backline. Junior college transfer Sam Brooks, who has played both at forward and in his natural position of defender this season, made two crucial team saves in the game to keep the Wildcats in the contest. Senior Drew Midkiff also played splendidly on the backline for UK, including a diving header to stop a dangerous cross in the second half.