Kentucky's MAC Win Streak Snapped at 10
LEXINGTON – The Kentucky men’s soccer team had its nine-game Mid-America Conference win streak snapped on Sunday afternoon in a 1-0 loss to Northern Illinois at the UK Soccer Complex.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 7-4-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play. The Huskies improved to 8-4 overall and tied Kentucky for second place in the league at 3-1.
“I don’t know what the problem was,” said Kentucky coach Ian Collins. “I thought we were ready to play and had prepared pretty well. We did what we normally do to prepare. There was just nothing. Northern Illinois wanted to win. They were hungry.”
The Wildcats dropped a MAC decision for the first time since the end of the 2002 season despite controlling play much of the game. It was the Huskies second win over Kentucky in 10 meetings.
“They’re coaches have done a great job,” Collin said of Steve Simmons’ staff. “They battled. But from our end we didn’t do anything.”
Northern Illinois started strong and took the game right to Kentucky. The strategy paid off in the ninth minute when Fraser Gibson won a ball in the box turned and beat Wildcat goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum from 12 yards out.
It was the first goal allowed by Kentucky in three games and just the second to a MAC team since the beginning of the 2003 campaign.
After falling behind, the Wildcats forced the action, particularly in the second half. Kentucky owned the shot advantage, 12-7, and earned five corner kicks to just three for Northern Illinois. The Huskies were very physical in their play, committing 24 fouls, including 18 in the second half, and earning three yellow cards.
“We have to be hungrier. We had the ball around the box all game,” Collins said. “We played better in the second half. The ball was bouncing around and we just couldn’t keep it alive.”
In the 74th minute, Kentucky appeared to have knotted the match when Michael D’Agostino headed home a ball. However, he was called offside among a jumble of players.
“The one ball we kept alive was called offside. He might have been, he might not have been. But we just have to be hungrier,” Collins noted.
Thomas Senecal had the Wildcats best chance before that on a header from inside the six-yard box that was snared by keeper Steve Goletz in the 66th minute. Goletz made three saves to earn the shutout.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday when it hosts Bowling Green at 7:30 p.m. at the UK Soccer Complex.