No. 23 UK Soccer Faces Marshall in C-USA Tournament Wednesday
Nov. 11, 2008
DALLAS -- Riding a school record seven-game unbeaten streak, the No. 23 Kentucky men’s soccer team returns to action in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament, facing the Marshall Thundering Herd on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET at SMU’s Westcott Field.
Kentucky (10-4-4, 6-1-1 C-USA) has ended the regular season ranked for the second time in the last two seasons. The 23rd-ranked Wildcats are ranked in three of the four major polls, No. 23 in the coaches poll, No. 24 in College Soccer News and No. 24 in the Soccer Times poll. In 2006, UK ran up 14 wins and finished second in the conference, finishing the season ranked No. 13 nationally. Only four times in the history of the NCAA Tournament has a team that finished second in a power conference not made the 48-team field, the 2006 Kentucky team, UAB in 1995 and 2004 and Marquette in 2004.
UK ranks 21st nationally in scoring offense and 27th in the NCAA in goals-against average (0.79). In the last seven matches, the Wildcats have totaled a 5-0-2 record, with wins over No. 18 South Carolina, UAB, FIU, UCF and No. 22 SMU – tying No. 14 Indiana in Bloomington and Memphis in the regular-season finale.
For the second consecutive season, UK defender Barry Rice has been named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week, the league office announced on Tuesday. Forward Marco dos Santos earned Newcomer of the Year accolades, while midfielder Jason Griffiths and Rice earned first-team All-Conference honors. Senior midfielder Masumi Turnbull and junior goalkeeper Dan Williams were tabbed on the third-team, while freshman defender Brad Walker made the All-Freshman team.
The Wildcats have totaled 35 goals on the year, the seventh-best total in the 18-year history of the program. UK’s 0.78 goals-against average would check in fourth-best in UK single-season history.
Last time out, UK battled Memphis in a scoreless draw, dominating play but not able to get any of its 13 shots into the net. Williams kept the Wildcats in the game with two saves and several athletic clearances, but Rice stole the show by claiming a season-best 32-of-36 contested header attempts on the night.
The Wildcats own the lone meeting against Marshall in 2008, a convincing 4-0 win in Huntington, W.Va., on Oct. 1. Senior forward Michael Strong netted two goals in that game, while Williams added to his current season-total of six shutouts. UK leads the all-time series with the Thundering Herd, 12-5-3, with its last defeat in the series coming at the first-round of the 2007 C-USA Tournament, in Birmingham, Ala.
UK owns a 2-2-1 all-time record in the C-USA Tournament, appearing three times in its four years as a member. UK’s best finish came in 2006, a runner-up finish to SMU.