Undefeated Kentucky, No. 12 Louisville Collide in Cardinal Classic
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Coming off a weekend which saw both Kentucky and Louisville pick up two wins in the Tropical Smoothie Invitational to keep their undefeated records alive, the University of Kentucky women's soccer team will travel west on I-64 to take on the No. 12 Louisville Cardinals. The game is part of opening night at the Cardinal Classic with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Friday’s game will be available on Insight cable channel 432 and Comcast cable channel 207.
"Obviously it's a big week for us," UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. "We're going into the Louisville game and they're undefeated and we're undefeated. Both of us have RPIs in the top 25 so it's a pretty exciting game to say the least. All we want to do is be our best and we talk about that all the time. The two teams play very different styles, different formations. They're looking to do different things at different times and I think a lot of it will be a battle of wills, of which style wins. I greatly respect their coaching staff, Karen (Ferguson-Dayes) and the entire staff are good friends. But for 90 minutes, we're going to get after it and the kids know that."
UK enters the game 4-0-0, which marks the second consecutive season that the Wildcats have opened with four wins. It is the first time in program history in which Kentucky has opened the season 4-0-0 in back-to-back seasons.
In last weekend's Tropical Smoothie Invitational, Kentucky picked up two wins without letting in a goal. Friday night, the Cats defeated UNC Greensboro 2-0 with goals from Cara Ledman and Natalie Horner while Sunday afternoon's win was virtue of a Horner goal in the 54th minute to record a 1-0 win over Southeast Missouri.
Kentucky's defense has been spectacular through the opening four games of the season, as UK continues to be the only team in the Southeastern Conference to not concede a goal to its opponents on the year. Kayla King and Kayla Price continue to split time in the cage for the Wildcats as each are ranked in the top five of the SEC in GAA. Price has only been forced to record three saves in 2012 while King has not been forced to tally a save all season as the junior from Louisville has only faced eight shots.
UK is 7-2-1 in the all-time series with UL, including a 2-0 victory in 2011 over the Cards in Lexington. Current senior Cassie Ransdell scored on a volley with nine seconds left in the opening half to give UK the 1-0 lead before then-freshman Stuart Pope netted the insurance goal to secure the Cats 2-0 win. The Wildcats have taken two of the last three match-ups, collecting wins in 2009 (1-0), and 2011 (2-0). Since the series took a 10-year hiatus from 1996-2006, Kentucky has yet to tally a win at Cardinal Park, going 0-1-1 in the two contests.
"I think one of the important things for us is, while we are intense, to also relax," Lipsitz said. "We've talked about the ability to both go full-speed but calm down when we get the ball because you can let emotions get such a hold of you that you forget to play good soccer, to possess the ball. We've got to find out moments where we just calm down, keep the ball, and play. Obviously, that's easier said than done, but that's something we've been working on very hard this week and we're just excited for the opportunity."
On Sunday, the Cardinal Classic will continue in Louisville with the Wildcats taking on the Samford Bulldogs at Noon ET. It will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Wildcats.
For continuing coverage of UK women's soccer, log on to UKathletics.com.