Women's Soccer Announces 2012 Schedule
March 21, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky women's soccer team, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Jon Lipsitz, announced its 2012 fall schedule Wednesday afternoon, which will include nine games against the 2011 final RPI top 50. Also included are seven non-conference games, and 13 games within the Southeastern Conference, which inserted eight teams into the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the second most in the country a year ago.
"One of the keys for our program as we continue to move up the national ladder is challenging ourselves at every possible moment," Lipsitz said. "From our first preseason game to the end of the season, we are trying to play as many top teams as possible both on the road, and at home in front of Big Blue Nation. As we have seen, our home field is a huge advantage for us and we love our great fans getting out there to watch some great games."
The Wildcats will start the regular season with four-consecutive home games. The Wildcats home opener will be on Aug. 17, as UK welcomes Coastal Carolina, a team UK beat 4-0 in its 2010 home opener. A week later, on Aug. 24, Kentucky will take on in-state foe Eastern Kentucky.
The Tropical Smoothie Invitational will again consist of four games over two days, which will feature Southeast Missouri State, Louisville and UNC-Greensboro. The first slate of games will be on Aug. 31 with the opener between Louisville and Southeast Missouri scheduled for a 5:00 p.m. ET kickoff, followed by a 7:30 p.m. first-whistle between UK and UNC-Greensboro on Friday night. The second day of the event will be Sept. 2 as UNC-Greensboro will square off against Louisville in the opening game at noon with UK and SEMO wrapping up the tournament at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Kentucky will once again renew its rivalry with Louisville on Sept. 7 as part of the Cardinal Classic. The Wildcats defeated the Cardinals 2-0 in Lexington a year ago, and have defeated the Cardinals two of the last three seasons. Louisville, who finished 28th in the final RPI, advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2011. The Cardinal Classic will conclude Sept. 9 with the Wildcats taking on the Samford Bulldogs in a battle scheduled for a noon kickoff. The Cardinal Classic will serve as the Wildcats final tune-up for the rigors of the SEC.
"We had to make some last-minute changes to our non-conference schedule because of the shift in the SEC schedule. I am excited by what we have been able to accomplish playing tough competition in back-to-back tournaments at UK and Louisville. Winning both of those tournaments really set us up for a strong RPI last year." Lipsitz said.
In 2011, the SEC received eight bids into the NCAA Tournament, which was more than any other conference in the nation. In addition, new conference member Texas A&M also received a bid. With the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri, the Wildcats will play 13 regular-season SEC games, in which seven of the 13 teams were ranked in the top 50 of the final 2011 RPI.
SEC opening weekend will be Sept. 14-16 as the Wildcats begin with a two-game homestand vs. No. 6 Florida and Mississippi State. The Gators visit Lexington on Sept. 14 with the Bulldogs visiting the UK Soccer Complex on Sept. 16.
Kentucky looks for its second-consecutive win over Arkansas on Sept. 21 in Fayetteville, Ark., as the Wildcats play their first of six SEC road games. In 2011, Kelsey Hunyadi netted a PK in overtime to down the Hogs 2-1 in the extra session. The two-game road swing concludes Sept. 23 when the Cats travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take on LSU.
The Wildcats return home to get their first look at Texas A&M as a member of the SEC on Sept. 28. The Aggies and Wildcats have tangled in the Bluegrass one time, which was in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament opening round. The weekend wraps up Sept. 30 vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide. In 2011, the Cats offense struck for four goals in a 4-2 defeat of the Tide. Kentucky has won two consecutive games against Alabama.
As the calendar turns to October, the Wildcats hit the road for a four-game swing starting Oct. 5 in Columbia, Mo., to take on the other newest SEC member, the Missouri Tigers. That weekend will conclude with a contest in Oxford, Miss., against the Ole Miss Rebels on Oct. 7.
In the final weekend of the four-game road trip, UK ventures to Knoxville, Tenn., for a contest against the Tennessee Lady Vols on Oct. 12. Kentucky will be looking for its third win in four tries against the Lady Vols, In 2011, Natalie Horner netted a goal in the sixth minute of overtime to down UT 1-0 in a critical regular-season showdown. After a brief visit to Knoxville, UK concludes the weekend in Athens, Ga., for a showdown with the Georgia Bulldogs, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago. UK and UGA tangle Oct. 14 in the Peach State.
UK concludes the SEC regular season with three straight home dates beginning with a Friday night showdown with South Carolina on Oct. 19. On the heels of a 44th-minute goal from Caitlin Landis a year ago, UK beat USC for the first time in four years 1-0 in Columbia, S.C. The weekend wrap-up will be Oct. 21 vs. Auburn.
The SEC regular season will come to a close Oct. 26, as the Wildcats take on the Vanderbilt Commodores to close the season. Last year, UK defeated Vandy 4-2 in Nashville, and has outscored the Black and Gold 10-3 over the last two years.
"As challenging as the SEC was last year with an SEC record eight teams making the tournament, making the SEC tournament is even going to become even tougher," Lipsitz said. "With the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri and other new coaches in the conference, it makes it that much tougher. I think it will be a tremendous season, and every game will be a great challenge."
The 2012 SEC Tournament will once again be contested in Orange Beach, Ala. This season, the tourney will take on a new format, as 10 of the 14 teams will qualify. The opening round will be Oct. 29, with the quarterfinals slated for Oct. 31. The semifinals will be played Nov. 2, with the championship game to determine the automatic NCAA Tournament qualifier Nov. 4.
The NCAA Tournament will follow the same format as it did in 2011, as the top 32 ranked teams will host a first-round game on campus before the seeded team in each region will host the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds. The University of San Diego will host the 2012 Women's College Cup on Nov. 30 and Dec. 2.
For continuing coverage of UK women's soccer all season long, log on to UKathletics.com.