Hey, y'all - bet you thought I'd never grace this hallowed page again, talkin' all that comm'nist soccer mess! Boy, were you wrong! Kentucky's Kickin' Wildcats men's soccer team has signed a new class for this fall, and they're rarin' to go come August!
First, the new signees: Hampus Agerström 5-9, 155, MF, Helsingborg, Sweden (Filborna Skolan); Kevin Barajas, 5-10, 155, MF, Atlanta, Ga. (Mt. Paran Christian School); Nick Bigilin, 6-3, 195, CB, Massapequa Park, N.Y. (Kellenberg Memorial); Austin Bucko, 5-8, 148, F, Madisonville, Ky. (Hopkinsville); Noah Hutchins, 5-10, 175, MF/F, Columbus, Ohio (Hilliard Davidson); Braeden Luna, 6-0, 165, GK, Destin, Fla. (Fort Walton Beach); Andrew McKelvey, 6-0, 175, F, Dublin, Ohio (Dublin Jerome); Grant Mook, 5-10, 175, D/MF, Rocklin, Calif. (Rocklin High School); Eddie Star, 6-1, 180, GK, Columbia, Ill. (Columbia High School); Stefan Stojkovic, 6-3, 176, F, Halmstad, Sweden (JB Gymnasiet); Jamie Terpak, 5-11, 180, D, Mclean, Va. (Langley High School)
Here's more detail about the new kids. Highlights, in case the above list was TL;DR:
- 2 players from the Columbus Crew academy (MF Noah Hutchins, F Andrew McKelvey)
- 1 guy from Orlando City's ever-improving academy, Braeden Luna, or Moon, if you're an Aston Villa fan
- 1 US Soccer Development Academy player, Eddie "He's A" Star
- 1 Umlaut
ALL NAME TEAM: Hampus Agerstrom, Eddie Star, Austin Bucko
Like last year, the season will open up with a friendly against Northern Kentucky up in, you guessed it, northern Kentucky on August 17. Then the season gets into full swing with heavyweights like Georgia Southern, Wright State, and Belmont, before the Cats get a breather against Indiana and their lesser known but more-recently-NCAA-champion state sharing brethren, Notre Dame. The rest of the schedule is here. It looks like fun!
"So, guy, how good is this signing class? Are we gonna be any good? Is that a brand new stadium I saw on Alumni Drive that these guys are gonna play in?"
Glad you asked. First, I have no idea how good this class is; it didn't hit the Top 40 with collegesoccernews.com, a real website that actually exists. One or two of these guys hit Top Drawer Soccer's Top 150, so that's an improvement. College soccer is weird. The good news is that Coach Cedergren is getting guys who have been developed by MLS and soon-to-be MLS academy systems, plus a couple Swedish guys who were brought up in a euro-style development system. Not necessarily really good ones, but euro-style! Also, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is technically Swedish, so there's that.
Second, well, we'll probably be better than we were last year. It will hurt having lost a great defender in Brad Doliner and the team's leading scorer in Tyler Riggs, but there was a lot of speed and potential in last year's team, so we'll see. No one really keeps up with what these guys do in their offseason, which is stupid long, so they might have been getting reps in with a USL-PDL team or they might have eaten a whole lot of Krystal chicken rings. Only God knows for sure! Cedergren sure has kept things under wraps, as all the positive things I've read him say about this season were reserved for the new stadium and how great the schedule is.
That last sentence answers the third question about the stadium, BTW.
"BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LADY KICKIN' CATS?!?!?!?" Legitimate question! First, BIG TIME CONGRATULATIONS to total badass Arin Gilliland for her Honda Inspiration Award, given to one female athlete a year who has overcome hardship and was able to return to play at the collegiate level. Not only was Gilliland able to compete following the death of her mother and tearing her ACL in 2011, she was named an All-American in 2012 and 2013, so suck it, other finalists for the award. Even more awesome, Arin got called up to, AND STARTED FOR, the US Women's National Team U23 squad back in February which won the Six Nations Cup, and again for a camp in June, which is HOLY WOW. WOW. Great for her, great for AMERICA.
Second, the Lady Cats will also be playing in the new soccer stadium, which has a name and is named after Wendell & Vickie Bell. No update yet on whether Sandy Bell felt like she got screwed on naming rights. I'm sure Wendell & Vickie deserved it.
Third, UK Athletics has been pretty mum about this fall's freshman class and the team's prospects in general. Top Drawer Soccer doesn't have them in their Top 25, but they were in the "also receiving votes" category, so that's alright. Coach Jon Lipsitz is a really good college coach, so we'll see if he can work some magic with a roster light on seniors (even if they do include Badass Arin Gilliland, Stuart Pope, and Emma Brown) and goalkeepers (only one on the roster at the moment). These girls do fight hard and play harder, so they're worth your time. Here's their schedule.
GO GO SOCCER CATS!