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UK Soccer tabbed Conference USA favorite; 4 Cats earn preseason honors

Big expectations for the soccer Cats next season.

UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats men’s soccer team has been tabbed the preseason favorites to repeat as Conference USA champs , while four players earned individual accolades and swept the conference’s most prestigious honors.

Junior midfielder Kalil ElMedkhar, junior goalkeeper Enrique Facusse, redshirt-junior defender Aimé Mabika, and sophomore forward Jason Reyes were each voted to the 2019 C-USA Preseason Team by league coaches. Mabika was selected C-USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and ElMedkhar and Reyes split the award for C-USA Preseason Co-Offensive Players of the Year.

A United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast Region and All-C-USA first-team honoree as a sophomore, ElMedkhar scored 11 goals and assisted on 10 more a season ago. His assist total ranked seventh in NCAA Division I and second in school history, while his goal output ranked 27th in the nation. The Middletown, Delaware, native’s 32 points placed ninth overall, and his 31-for-47 (.660) shot accuracy was fourth best in the nation.

Facusse was tabbed a second-team USC All-American and first-team All-C-USA performer last year after setting UK single-season records for wins (19), shutouts (14) and goals against average (0.49). The 6-foot-3 former Montverde Academy (Fla.) standout from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, led the entire country in shutouts and ranked third in goals against average, complemented by the 11th-best save percentage (.836).

Mabika, who hails from Lexington, was voted to the third-team USC All-America and first-team All-C-USA defenses a season ago. With Mabika as its anchor, the 2018 Kentucky back line ended the season second in the nation by way of its 0.49 goals against average and .636 shutout percentage.

Reyes was recognized as C-USA Freshman of the Year and All-C-USA second-team in his first collegiate season. The San José, Costa Rica, native was Kentucky’s third-leading scorer with eight goals in 2018, a mark that ranked within the top 75 overall.