By Matt Bradshaw —
Kentucky (3-0-0) handed No. 7 men’s soccer their first loss of the 2018 season with a decisive 3-0 victory in Lexington. The Wildcats evened the Battle of the Bluegrass on the pitch after a 1-0 loss to women’s soccer last week.
With the defeat, U of L (2-1-0) lost the chance to even the all-time series with UK. Kentucky now leads 15-13-5 in the series dating back to 1979.
Despite holding their own in the midfield with strong possession, Louisville’s offense was nonexistent compared to their rival. The Cats held a 11-9 shot advantage and the Cards only had two shots on goal.
Sophomore keeper Will Meyer had a rough game for the Cardinals. The goalie allowed three goals in his first start of the season, with the first coming at the four minute mark, along with earning a yellow card.
Junior forward and team captain J. J. Williams was the man of the match for Kentucky, scoring a brace.
The Wildcats could not have started better at home with their first goal at the four minute mark.
Kentucky’s defense sent a through ball to Williams behind Louisville’s backline. Meyer attempted to slide tackle Williams but failed, leaving the goal wide open for the forward’s first score.
For the next 20 minutes, Louisville handled their opponent with solid possession in the midfield. The Cardinals passed well, but only recorded one shot and struggled to get the ball near the box.
At the 22 minute mark, Meyer received a yellow card for a dangerous slide outside the box. UK responded with a string of free kicks and close opportunities, gaining control of the pitch.
At the 37 minute mark, Williams added his second goal of the game for a 2-0 Kentucky lead. The forward received a cross in the box for an easy, wide open header.
The first half ended a physical battle. The Wildcats had nine fouls and two yellow cards and the Cardinals had seven fouls and one card at halftime.
U of L came out much more aggressive in the second half. The offense got off three shots early on but still nothing close to goal.
The match remained heated as the clock winded down. At the 58 minute mark, senior Geoffrey Dee got in a shoving match with a Kentucky midfielder that required referee intervention.
Dee nearly scored a rocket at the 68 minute mark, but the Kentucky keeper maintained the sweep with a diving one-handed save.
UK clinched their victory with the third goal of the match at the 73 minute mark. Junior Adam Wilson committed a handball in the box and the Wildcats converted the penalty kick for a 3-0 score.
The Cardinals finally seemed to get the offense in sync for the final fifteen minutes but could not manage a score. Men’s soccer has not defeated Kentucky in Lexington since 2014.
Louisville returns home this Sunday, Sept. 9 for their first ACC matchup of the season. The Cardinals face the Duke Blue Devils at 2 p.m. at Lynn Stadium.
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Photos by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal