Rice Nets Game Winner, UK Wins C-USA Opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Sophomore Kentucky defender Barry Rice’s goal in the 82nd minute Saturday lifted Kentucky to a 1-0 win against UAB in the Conference USA opener for the Wildcats, at the UK Soccer Complex.
Rice’s third goal of the season, which tied him for the team goal lead with forward’s Tim Crone and Aaron Swanson, helped the Wildcats (3-5-2, 1-0 C-USA) to their second consecutive victory.
The Blazers (5-5-1), who posted a signature win against No. 10 Indiana on Sept. 21 in front of 2,275 fans, were averaging 1.56 goals per game coming into the game. The Wildcats, however, limited UAB to just four shots and one shot on goal.
The two teams played scoreless soccer until the 82nd minute when junior midfielder Masumi Turnbull lofted a corner kick from the right side to Rice, who played it off his chest and volleyed it off the crossbar into the back of the net.
The goal capped off a strong offensive performance for the Wildcats, who had a dominant 11-4 advantage in shots.
Kentucky ignited its offense early as Rice narrowly missed the goal on a free kick in the 11th minute from 25 yards out. UAB goalkeeper Wes Johnson dived to punch away the shot and foil the Cats’ scoring opportunity.
Just minutes later, Swanson launched a shot in the box to Luke Maitland. Maitland’s diving attempt was deflected out of bounds to thwart the scoring chance.
The Blazers’ only legitimate scoring chance in the opening period came in the 43rd minute when Michal Mravec sent a shot towards the goal that was stopped by Rice. UAB was unable to convert on the ensuing corner kick as the teams went into the locker room at intermission locked in a scoreless tie. Kentucky was able to maintain its offensive prowess in the second period, firing a pair of shots just minutes into the second half. Swanson had a low, powerful shot towards the goal in the 48th minute that was stopped by Johnson. Two minutes later, midfielder Jase Griffiths beat Johnson with a ball from 25 yards out, but the attempt hit the crossbar before being cleared by UAB’s defense.
Kentucky returns to action Wednesday, when it plays host to No. 14 Tulsa. Kick-off at the UK Soccer Complex is set for 7 p.m.