Folks. I know your weekend went about as expected, as you sort of blah-ed your way through Kentucky's blah loss to Vanderbilt and then watched Aaron Harrison bring the thunder down on Robert Morris U for beating a Kentucky team back in March that he wasn't even a part of. REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED BY THOSE WHO WEREN'T AFFECTED BY THE ORIGINAL OFFENSE IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER! Seriously, though, I do love a good slaughtering of a NECC team.
Anyway, what you might not know is that soccer happened last weekend. You could be excused for forgetting that, as the USMNT seemed to forget how to soccer against Scotland in its nil-nil draw on Friday afternoon. It was almost as much fun as the Vandy game on Saturday. But, lo! Good soccer things happened for Kentucky (for the most part). Let's read!
The men entered the Conference USA tournament as fairly significant underdogs against second seed Old Dominion on Wednesday last week, but earned a victory in overtime 1-0 on a golden goal from junior forward Justin Laird to reach the semifinals. Unfortunately, their semis opponent was tourney host Charlotte. The Appalachian version of the 49ers got a goal in the 40th minute from Brandt Bonico and the Cats were unable to equalize. The one salve that the Cats can take away from the game is that Charlotte went on to beat Tulsa to win the championship, while New Mexico didn't even score a goal in the tournament.
Unfortunately, this was the last hurrah for UK's senior class, as the Cats had a losing record and no chance to make the NCAA Tournament :(. From UK Athletics:
The loss ends the careers of UK's four-man senior class, including Brad Doliner, Steven Perinovic, Tyler Riggs and Jack Van Arsdale. Perinovic, a two-time All-Conference USA selection, finished his career with 79 games played, ranking fifth-best in UK career history, and 73 starts, the sixth-best total in school annals. Van Arsdale finished his three-year UK career with a 1.28 goals-against average, ranking eighth-best in UK history. His 71 saves ranked ninth-best in program annals. A native of Louisville, Ky., Riggs exits UK as the only player in school history to lead the team in scoring for four consecutive years. He finished with 29 goals (second in UK history), 10 assists, 68 points (T-fifth), 144 shots (sixth) and seven game-winning goals (sixth).
Absent from that note is much mention of NOTED BADASS Brad Doliner, who, in my humble opinion, was team MVP for the Cats this year. Hats off to all of these guys who have worked so hard to make UK Soccer the up and coming program that it's become.
MEANWHILE, the Women hosted Ohio State on Friday night at UK Soccer Complex in their opening round game of the NCAA Tournament. The game didn't start out as well as hoped, as the Lady Buckeyes (trees and nuts have genders, apparently) held onto a nil-nil scoreline going into halftime despite Kentucky controlling possession for most of the half. However, the Cats got out into the second half firing when Caitlin Landis scored a rebound goal in the 51st minute following a corner kick into the box. Half woman-half machine Arin Gilliland followed up to double the advantage just 3 minutes later on a fast break, beating the keeper one on one.
Ohio State finally got a goal of their own in the 73rd minute despite Kentucky putting pretty much everyone behind the ball, but Zoe Swift removed all doubt of Kentucky's victory three minutes later after a pretty two-woman passing game between her and Arin Gilliland to beat the keeper one on one. The win marks Kentucky's second ever NCAA Tournament victory.
Well, the good news is the Lady Cats are going to sunny California on Friday. The bad news is they have to play (2) UCLA at their home stadium to try and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. UCLA dispatched San Diego State 3-0 last Friday, haven't lost a game since an 0-1 defeat at North Carolina in September, and have only given up seven goals all season, never more than one per game. Yikes. Find an excuse to go to LA on Friday and cheer on your Lady Cats, friends. GO WOMEN SOCCER CATS!