Cats Open SEC Slate against 10th Ranked Gators
Sept. 24, 2009
LEXINGTON, KY - With the pre-conference portion of the schedule behind them, the UK women's soccer team (3-2-3) can now concentrate on SEC play which opens on the road for UK this week at No. 10 (NSCAA) Florida (6-3-0) and No. 12 (NSCAA) South Carolina (8-0-0).
The Wildcats look to reverse their fortunes in SEC lid lifters where UK is 5-9-2. Fortunately UK is at the top of their game defensively, having allowed only four goals through the first eight matches of the season, a feat matched only once in program history. The 2006 squad led by All-American goalie Anne Ogundele allowed only four scores through the first eight matches.
Junior goalie Sydney Hiance anchors the solid UK defense with a career best five shutouts, which ranks second in the SEC. Her 0.47 goals-against-average (GAA) ranks fourth in the league and 24th nationally. Overall the Wildcats 0.47 GAA ranks 21st nationally.
Kentucky enters conference play on a two-match unbeaten streak having played to a 0-0 tie on Friday against Western Kentucky and picking up a 3-0 victory over Tennessee Tech on Sunday. The Wildcats exercised some offensive demons against the Golden Eagles, getting goals from three different players for the team's first multi-goal game since the season opener. Senior Stefani Kildare and freshman Kirsten Robinson picked fine times to pick up their first collegiate goals. Kildare wound up scoring the game-winner with her header in the 10th minute off a cross from Robinson.
UK head coach Jon Lipsitz will look for more offensive output from his team, but he's well aware that it's his defense that is going to have to continue to lead.
"Our leaders have been our center backs," said Lipsitz. "Julie (Hull) and Jenna (Goblirsch) have done a tremendous job leading us and Sydney Hiance in goal has been tremendous. We've been very stingy defensively and we need to continue to be because Florida is extremely well coached and very potent offensively. At the same time we need our forwards to step up and lead us in the attack. What we're really looking for is to keep the game tight all the way to the end and convert some chances."
The weekend marks the third straight year that Kentucky has made the Florida-South Carolina swing with both teams being ranked nationally.
"We know it's going to be a very difficult weekend," said Lipsitz. "We know that this is a great challenge ahead of us and that's the exciting part. This is why players choose to play at a great program like UK and a great conference like the SEC, for weekends like this. If a challenge like this isn't going to get you excited, you definitely shouldn't be a student athlete."
Florida leads the all-time series against UK 15-2-2, but perhaps the most stinging loss came last season when the Wildcats led the Gators 2-0 early on in Lexington. Florida answered with two second half goals to send the match into overtime and then tallied the golden goal two minutes into the second overtime.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium. Live stats and blog will be available at UKathletics.com