Nov. 13, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Justin Laird’s golden goal in the 93rd minute lifted the Kentucky men’s soccer team to a dramatic 1-0 overtime win over No. 27 Old Dominion, in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament, hosted by Charlotte, on a bitterly cold Wednesday night at Transamerica Field.
“A fantastic team performance,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren, who is unbeaten in his two years of C-USA Tournament action, said. “At times we really had to dig deep and defend hard. All the guys did a fantastic job. Cally (Irving) saving a penalty, Steven (Perinovic) and Jordan (Wilson) were fantastic. Charlie Reymann, who had a tough time down at ODU when we played them at their place in the regular season, he has grown so much since that game. He was one of the best players that we had today. Same for Alex Bumpus, who played on the other side (of the backline). That back four, with Cally, they did a fantastic job. They got forward as well; Alex (Bumpus) and Charlie had a lot of good crosses that we just weren’t able to do anything with. Everyone did well but especially the back four and Cally, you have to give a huge plus there.”
Kentucky (7-9-3) battled the high-octane Monarchs scoreless through regulation, getting a heroic performance from sophomore goalkeeper Callum Irving – a 2013 first-team All-Conference USA selection in goal – who saved five shots, including a penalty kick attempt in the second half.
“It was similar to last time against ODU, just an absolute battle from beginning to end that team was coming at us full throttle,” Irving said. “The guys had to fight, everyone on the field, it was intense to say the least. Just really happy we got the win.”
In the 93rd frame, UK senior forward Tyler Riggs found freshman midfielder Napo Matsoso on the near sideline. Matsoso, a member of the C-USA All-Freshman Team, lofted a gorgeous ball over the backline and right to Laird inside the 18-yard box. Laird, a native of Milwaukee, Wis., had a defender on his hip but managed to fire a shot into the net at the far post for the golden goal. It marked Laird’s first goal during his career at Kentucky, with the six-foot forward netting seven goals during a freshman season at Wright State, when he was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year.
“The goal, honestly, I have to give it all to Napo,” Laird said. “All to Napo. He played a good ball in and I just had a good touch on the outside of my foot and put it far post.”
The assist marked the first of the year for Riggs and the fifth of the season for Matsoso.
“Such a good goal,” Cedergren said. “He is a good player, he is a big body he is not afraid to put it in there, he is fast and he can finish. He peeled off the defender, we picked up the run. A great ball and a great finish. We rotated the forwards to try and keep them fresh, hoping that we could catch ODU on a counter and in the end it played out. Great goal by Justin.”
The win for the Wildcats is the second against Old Dominion in 2013, as UK used a 2-1 overtime win over the Monarchs on two goals from senior Brad Doliner on Oct. 4 in Norfolk, Va., which also included a then career-high six save outing from Irving.
Old Dominion (10-5-1) suffered just its fifth loss of the year, with two coming at the hands of the Wildcats. ODU entered the game with just two losses in its last 12 games, vs. UK and against No. 25 New Mexico, the 2013 league champions.
The Monarchs had a chance to take control of the game in the 63rd minute, getting awarded a penalty kick after a foul right at the edge of the 18-yard box. Ivan Militar took the penalty, firing a hard-hit shot to his right. Irving made a spectacular diving save to his left, getting a hand on the ball before securing it in his gut for a crucial, game-saving stop.
“When the guy stepped up, I just had a feeling to my left and I went down there and got a hand on it,” Irving said. “It felt amazing to keep that for our team.”
ODU had a dynamic performance from C-USA Offensive Player of the Year Tim Hopkinson, who fired 11 shots in the game, part of a 25-11 shot advantage and a 5-1 mark in corners for the Monarchs. ODU keeper Sean Stowe saved two shots.
Kentucky will return to action on Friday in the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament, with kickoff at Transamerica Field slated for 7:30 p.m. ET. UK will face the winner of No. 3 seeded UAB and No. 6 seeded Charlotte.
GAME NOTES: Freshman Kaelon Fox and junior Justin Laird were the first subs of the game … Junior Justin Laird notched his first career Kentucky goal in overtime and his eighth career collegiate goal … Senior Tyler Riggs now has 10 career assists and 68 career points … Riggs now moves into a tie with Brian Dausman (1992-95) for fifth place in UK career history in points … Riggs now has 142 shots in his career, ranking sixth in UK career history … Freshman Napo Matsoso notched his fifth assist of the year … UK is now 2-0-3 in overtime games in 2013 and 2-1-5 overall in overtime games during the Johan Cedergren era … Cedergren is unbeaten in C-USA Tournament play, with a 2-0-1 record over the last two years … Senior center back Steven Perinovic won 5-of-5 contested header attempts and has now won 143-for-185 on the year, a 77-percent clip … UK is now 2-0 all-time against Old Dominion, with both wins coming in 2013.