LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With only two losses in the last 13 home games, the Kentucky men's soccer team looks to remain strong at home, hosting Conference USA power Tulsa, with kickoff on Wednesday set for 7 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.
Kentucky (7-7-1, 0-4-0 C-USA) is battling for a berth in the 2011 C-USA Tournament, hosted by Tulsa, which takes the top six teams in the nine-team league. The Wildcats have four conference games remaining, facing Tulsa and SMU at home and traveling to Memphis and South Carolina.
The Wildcats suffered their fourth consecutive loss on Saturday, falling in a wild finish against UAB. The Blazers netted three goals to take a commanding lead, before UK mounted a furious rally in the second half, including a five-shot outing from sophomore Brendan Murphy off the bench. UK got goals from Murphy and sophomore Tyler Riggs, outshooting UAB 20-10, including a 12-4 advantage in the second half and a 9-0 mark in corner kicks in the second period.
UK has been paced by a potent offensive attack through its 15 games to open the 2011 season, totaling 1.87 goals per game and 16.7 shots per contest. UK's offensive charge has been paced by Riggs, who owns 10 goals and five assists, becoming the first UK player with 10 or more goals since Riley O'Neill's school-record 17 goals in 2006. Junior Matt Lodge has seven goals and seven assists, while Charles Pettys owns one goal and seven assists. Senior Josh Mulvany has netted two goals with three assists, while senior C.J. Tappel has four assists and one goal. Murphy and Sam Brooks have each netted two goals and added one assist. In goal, sophomore Tyler Beadle has saved 35 shots in 13 games with a 1.66 goals-against average.
Tulsa (4-7-0, 0-2-0 C-USA) enters the game also on a four-game losing streak, suffering losses vs. Green Bay, No. 20 SMU, No. 4 Akron and South Carolina. The Golden Hurricane have netted 14 goals in 11 games with a 1.71 goals-against average, also facing No. 25 Loyola Marymount, No. 3 Connecticut and No. 28 Dartmouth during a challenging slate. Individually, Omar Mata leads the team with nine points on three goals and three assists, with Corey Albertson owning three goals and two assists. Stephen Roberson has two goals and three assists, while Tony Rocha has a goal and three assists. Netminder Michael Murray has a 1.56 goals-against average in 11 games, saving 36 shots with one clean sheet.
Tulsa leads the all-time series with UK 6-4-1, with UK winning three of the first four meetings in the series and Tulsa owning wins in three of the last four games. In two meetings last year between the two teams, UK posted a 2-1 comeback win in Tulsa, before a conference tournament 5-0 loss to the Golden Hurricane to end the 2010 season. In the win at Tulsa, UK allowed Mata's first goal of the year in the 32nd minute, before UK mounted a rally in the second half, sparked by Riggs' fourth goal of the year and Lodge's majestic free kick goal in the 75th minute for the win. UK got five saves from Beadle in the win, with Lodge firing four shots in the game. In the loss in the C-USA Tournament in Memphis, Tenn., TU got goals in the 15th, 56th, 77th, 79th and 87th minutes for the win, with UK owning a 17-13 advantage in shots and a 7-3 mark in corners.