By Jordan Shim–
Men’s soccer drew with rival Kentucky 2-2 in the Battle of the Bluegrass to remain unbeaten on the year.
Mohamed Thiaw struck first for Louisville (3-0-1) before Kentucky (3-0-1) scored two unanswered to take the lead. Louisville native Cody Cochran scored the equalizer on the brink of halftime.
Louisville dominated the game once again, but couldn’t break through Kentucky’s tough defense.
“In the end when you look back on this, it’s gonna be a good match for us RPI wise,” Louisville coach Ken Lolla said. “Kentucky is going to win a lot of games this year, so a draw isn’t going to hurt by any means. Having said that, we should’ve gotten more out of the match.”
Adam Wilson, returning from injury, made his first start for the Cardinals and made an immediate impact. In the 14th minute, the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year swung in a cross from the left that only Thiaw could get. Thiaw controlled and poked home his first goal of the season.
The lead only lasted two minutes as the Wildcats equalized in the 16th minute. Connor Probert curled a beautiful free kick from 25 yards that no goalkeeper would have been able to save.
The back and forth action continued. Louisville had chances but couldn’t end with shots. Kentucky, tactically, attacked Danny Reynolds on the right flank. They did again and advanced just outside the box. Tanner Hummel floated a ball over the both Louisville center backs, and Mikkel Pedersen volleyed past Louisville goalkeeper Jake Gelnovatch in the 29th minute.
Despite how strong both defenses were, goals came frequently. Four would round out the first half as Cochran equalized in the 41st minute. Tim Kubel crossed the ball into the box that Kentucky should have easily cleared. However, the ball hit a Kentucky player’s leg, and Cochran knocked home the rebound from close range.
“It was amazing,” Cochran said. “I hate going down, but we always seem to find a way to bounce back. It’s just the character of our team. We’re always ready to fight back.”
The stat sheet would prove that opportunities were going to be limited. However, efficiency was the story the game produced four first half goals from six shots on goal.
The second half played to expectations as shots came at a premium. Louisville went forward searching for the winner, while Kentucky was content with a point on the road.
Thiaw had a great chance to win the game in the 87th minute. Reynolds’ cross connected with Thiaw, who put a powerful header on goal but Kentucky goalkeeper Enrique Facusse tipped the ball over the goal.
Overtime didn’t produce much action as Kentucky killed the game off sitting back organized.
The Cardinals move from one rival to another as they host No. 2 Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 9 to kick off ACC play. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
You can follow Jordan on Twitter @tlcjordanshim.
Photo by Laurel Slaughter / The Louisville Cardinal