Oct. 25, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Riding a three-game winning streak that has pushed Kentucky into the thick of the postseason race, UK men’s soccer will return to action on Saturday with a crucial Conference USA match, traveling to face No. 23 Tulsa at 8 p.m. ET at the Hurricane Soccer Complex.
Kentucky (8-6-2, 3-1-1 C-USA) has used the three-game winning streak to vault into contention for the regular-season conference title and a NCAA Tournament hosting spot. Owning the best strength of schedule (No. 13) and the second-best RPI (No. 18) in the league, Kentucky sits just behind SMU and Tulsa in the race for the league title.
The Wildcats have won three consecutive matches in the circuit, beating No. 25 UAB, 2-1 on Oct. 13, 10-win Marshall 1-0 on Oct. 17 and posting a 5-1 smashing of FIU on Sunday in Lexington. Over its last 10 games, Kentucky – which started 0-3 on the year – owns a 7-2-1 record, including a 1-0 win at No. 18 Louisville that started the 10-match stretch.
Last week, UK posted a pair of wins behind the strength of two-time All-Conference USA defender Dylan Asher. The native of Richardson, Texas, charted his first four career goals in the two game week, making his first career starts at forward in place on injured UK leading scorer Tyler Riggs. Asher shined, earned C-USA Offensive Player of the Week honors and College Soccer News National Player of the Week accolades.
Kentucky has been paced by an explosive offensive attack in 2012, netting 29 goals in 15 games. UK has averaged 1.93 goals-per game, talking 12.9 shots a contest and owning a 95-75 advantage in corner kicks. Defensively, UK sports a 1.37 goals-against average with four shutouts.
Individually, Riggs has led UK with seven goals and four assists in the first 13 games. Senior Charley Pettys has added six goals and three assists, while senior Matt Lodge has contributed six goals and two assists with a team-high 49 shots. Senior Gabriel Conelian has three goals and three assists, while Asher has four goals. Senior Jacob Kemper leads the team with five assists, while freshman Bryan Celis has added a goal and two assists. Steven Perinovic and Dustin Scibilia has each contributed goals, with freshman Kristoffer Tollefsen adding two assists.
In goal, Jack Van Arsdale has started 12 games with a 1.25 goals-against average and 38 saves. Freshman Callum Irving has started three games with a 2.00 goals-against average and seven saves.
Tulsa (10-4-1, 4-1-1 C-USA) enters the game second in the C-USA standings, behind SMU (15 points). The Golden Hurricane has won two straight, a 2-1 win at UAB and a 3-1 win over UCF. Tulsa has 38 goals in 15 games, with 2.53 goals-per game. Defensively, Tulsa has a 1.18 goals-against average, with five shutouts.
Individually, Cristian Mata leads the Hurricane with 11 goals and four assists, taking 47 shots. Akeil Barrett has added five goals and three assists, Bryce Follensbee has eight goals and three assists and Omar Mata has five goals and four assists. Stephen Roberson has added five assists. Keeper Mark Pais has a 1.18 goals-against average, saving 53 shots.
Tulsa owns a 6-5-1 advantage in the all-time series, with UK winning two of the last three meetings. In games played in Tulsa, UK is 3-1 all-time. In the meeting last year, UK posted a 3-1 win in Lexington, as Pettys recorded his first career multi-goal game. UK also got three assists in the game from Lodge and a goal from Josh Mulvany, with Omar Mata scoring in the 87th minute on a penalty kick. In the last meeting at Tulsa, UK rallied from a halftime deficit with two goals in the second frame for a 2-1 win. Riggs and Lodge each finished goals in the game, with Riggs hooking up with UK defender Brad Walker for the equalizer in the 49th minute and Lodge winning the game with a majestic free-kick goal in the 75th minute.