Nov. 15, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A first-half goal from Charlotte lifted the host 49ers to a 1-0 win over the Kentucky men's soccer team in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament, ending UK's 2013 season, on a damp Friday night at Transamerica Field.
The Wildcats allowed a goal to the 49ers in the 40th minute of the first half. Charlotte advanced to the C-USA Semifinals with a 2-1 win over UAB on Wednesday night, with UK posting an upset, 1-0 win in overtime vs. No. 27 Old Dominion on Wednesday.
"Tough game, have to give a lot of credit to Charlotte and its coaching staff," UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. "That is a very, very good team. They have won seven in a row. I saw them Wednesday in the quarterfinals and we knew that it was going to be a real battle for us. We did really well. We defended hard. We played pretty well, up until about maybe 15 or 20 minutes to go, then we started going a little more direct just hoping to get something out of it."
Kentucky (7-10-3) advanced to the C-USA Tournament Semifinals for the second consecutive year and the fourth time in program history, marking the first time in UK's history in the loop it advance to the tournament semifinals in consecutive years. The loss was the first of UK head coach Johan Cedergren's - who led UK to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 for the first time since 2003 - two-year career in C-USA Tournament action.
UK keeper Callum Irving, a 2013 first-team All-Conference USA selection, finished with one save. Irving earned a 1.09 goals-against average in 2013, the 11th-best total in UK single-season history. He totaled six shutouts to tie Andy Gruenebaum for ninth in single-season history.
Charlotte (10-5-3) got on the board in the 40th minute, gaining possession on the far side of the field. With the UK defense scrambling back into the box, Charlotte's Hans Honer found it on the far side of the 18-yard box in traffic, sending it to the near side and Brandt Bonico. Bonico took a shot that sailed across the goal mouth and in at the far post, past a diving Irving, for his third goal of the year.
The 49ers owned an advantage in shots (15-10) and corner kicks (8-0). Charlotte keeper Klay Davis, who has paced the 49ers to a C-USA lead in goals-against average entering the game (0.80), saved six shots in 90 minutes. UK applied consistent pressure in the second half, owning a 10-4 advantage in shots in the frame.
The Wildcats finished with the second-most minutes played by underclassmen in program history, a total of 69-percent of the minutes played in 2013. It marked the most since 72-percent of the minutes in 2010 came from underclassmen.
"I feel really good about the future," Cedergren said. "For us, it is now just about working hard and making sure that we are not in a place like this ever again. You can tell the seniors, how much it matters to them, leaving the field in tears. It was a tough game, it was a good game, a lot of credit to Charlotte, they are a very, very good team. And they are someone that we are striving to become."
The loss ends the careers of UK's four-man senior class, including Brad Doliner, Steven Perinovic, Tyler Riggs and Jack Van Arsdale. Perinovic, a two-time All-Conference USA selection, finished his career with 79 games played, ranking fifth-best in UK career history, and 73 starts, the sixth-best total in school annals. Van Arsdale finished his three-year UK career with a 1.28 goals-against average, ranking eighth-best in UK history. His 71 saves ranked ninth-best in program annals. A native of Louisville, Ky., Riggs exits UK as the only player in school history to lead the team in scoring for four consecutive years. He finished with 29 goals (second in UK history), 10 assists, 68 points (T-fifth), 144 shots (sixth) and seven game-winning goals (sixth).
"It has been a real honor to have been able to work with these guys for two years. Riggs, Brad, Steven and Jack, they are fantastic guys and they've really helped me a lot. They've bought in from day one. There haven't been a lot of problems with them. They are great off the field. They work hard. They are excellent students. It has been a good year from them because they've shown the guys how much it matters to them. How hard you have to work and at the same time what you have to do as a Kentucky student-athlete off the field as well. I am really, really going to miss them and I wish I could have them back for at least one year. That is part of college, it is a cycle. We are really going to miss them but I don't have words to say how appreciate I am and I am looking forward to following their careers and what they are going to do in the future."
GAME NOTES: Freshman Ryan Creel was UK's first sub of the game ... UK fell behind in first-half scoring in 2013, 11-4 with the Charlotte goal ... Charlotte owns a 16-2 advantage in goals in the first half in 2013 ... UK advanced to its fourth C-USA Tournament Semifinals and its second consecutive season ... It marked the first time in UK's history in C-USA that UK advanced to the C-USA Semifinals in consecutive years ... With the win, Charlotte leads the all-time series, 3-0, including a 2-0 mark in games played in Charlotte ... UK senior center back Steven Perinovic won 7-of-12 contested header attempts in the game and won 150-of-197 on the year (76 percent).