Kentucky Men’s Soccer defeated the Portland Pilots 4-0 on Sunday evening and advances to the Third Round, where they will play Lipscomb. There was a great crowd at the Bell, with the official attendance being 1,831. Kentucky returns to play on Saturday at 7:00, with the winner playing either #6 Duke or #11 Maryland.
The first forty minutes of the match was very evenly balanced, but the ball was on Kentucky’s offensive side of the field. Kentucky broke through in the 41st minute, when sophomore midfielder Kilil Elmedkhar broke away from pressure and beat a one-on-one with the goalie to put the ball in the back of the net. Entering halftime, Kentucky maintained a one goal lead.
Halftime: #3 Kentucky-1, #21 Portland-0
Kentucky needed just over one minute to score again, as JJ Williams drew three defenders in and then placed the ball on the opposite side of the net, past the arms of the Portland goalie. The crowd was on their feet and could feel a potential Sweet 16 berth on the line.
#3 Kentucky-2, #21 Portland-0
Williams picked up his second assist of the match as the UP defense collapses, which left Kalil ElMedkhar open for the shot. He connected in the bottom left of the goal and secured the victory for Kentucky. UP was becoming frustrated and tired, which was expected considering playing two matches in four days and traveling cross-country.
#3 Kentucky-3, #21 Portland-0
Arguably the most beautiful play of the match took place in the 68th minute, when Nicolai Fremstad punted the ball to Sam Stockton, who placed the ball between many defenders and found its way to JJ Williams. The C-USA Player of the Year didn’t disappoint, as he sprinted past the defender and finished the ball into the net.
#3 Kentucky-4, #21 Portland-0
Kentucky continued to pressure the ball and not stop the level of intensity in the match, which was an emphasis for head coach Johan Cedergran. The Cats closed out the match and will appear in the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in program history. Kentucky improves to 18-1-1 on the season and has been firing on all cylinders.
The match was physical and dominated by UK, who out-shot UP 19-5 and had three less fouls, 5-8.
The UK players love playing in big-time games, which will be none other than the one on either Saturday or Sunday. Be sure to come out and cheer on the Cats to a potential Elite Eight berth!
But that wasn’t the only big win for UK on this day, as the 11th-Ranked Kentucky Volleyball swept 23rd-ranked Mizzou (25-17, 25-22, 25-18) to win its second straight SEC Championship. It’s the seventh SEC crown for Kentucky in program history and first time winning in back-to-back seasons since 1987-1988.
The Cats went on the road and took care of business for a second straight season by sweeping a very good Missouri team. Junior outside hitter Leah Edmond became the program leader in career kills at UK with her 22 kill performance on Sunday.
Keep in mind, she still has over a year of eligibility remaining. Freshman outside hitter Alli Stumler added 15 kills and continued her amazing freshman campaign.
Kentucky continued their stellar defense and clean passing, which is very hard to do in such a tough environment like Hearnes Arena in Columbia. UK is clicking at the right time and continues to ride an 18 game win streak. With the win, Kentucky improves to 22-4 on the season and 16-0 in the SEC. The Cats end their three game road stretch on Wednesday at South Carolina. The game is at 7:00 PM and will be on SEC Network+.
Congrats to the team on winning the Conference Championship, but many more goals remain for this team. They need all the support that they can get, so come out to Memorial Coliseum on Saturday at 2:00 as UK plays at home one more time against Auburn.