Frustrated UK women's soccer coach calls team 'uncoachable' after 0-0 tie with Utah

mmaloney@herald-leader.comAugust 25, 2013 

If you thought wearing a black suit in mid-80 degree weather made Jon Lipsitz hot Sunday, think again.

What really had the coach steamed was the way his Kentucky women played in their home opener, a 0-0 draw with Utah.

"Very poorly; simply not good enough," Lipsitz said in assessing his team's play. "We got dominated on 50-50 balls. So we didn't put in the work necessary to then play soccer, and quite frankly we were completely uncoachable.

"We made adjustments at halftime, and they didn't happen. And we made some pretty major adjustments right before overtime, and they didn't happen. What happens is, if a coach makes adjustments and some players do it and some players don't, now they're on separate pages. So it's no longer about right or wrong, it's about being on different pages."

The Wildcats, who dropped their season opener 3-1 Friday at Wake Forest, can expect a lineup shuffle before playing host to Eastern Kentucky.

"I would wait and see my lineup next Friday before I make any comments on where we're going to be," Lipsitz said. "Because there are going to be some major changes."

One possibility would be to move Arin Gilliland from the back line. That's where she was placed during both of the training camps she took part in with the U.S. National Team in April and May.

Primarily a forward as a sophomore last season, she recorded seven goals and seven assists.

Might we see her at forward again sometime soon?

"You might," Lipsitz said.

"The national team is never going to say to me, 'This is where you have to play.' But I also want to give her reps back there," he said. "But there's another side of it, which is if you look at our captain and one of the best, if not the best, center backs in the history of our women's national team, Christie Pearce, she didn't play in the back in college. And Kelley O'Hara, who's been playing left back, didn't play back in college. And Whitney Engen, who plays center back on the national team only played back for a year or two. The vast majority of backs at the national team level are converted, and that's something that we need to continue to talk about at this level."

Gilliland, a tri-captain, says she'll play wherever told.

"I have complete confidence in our forwards up there now," she said. "It is (frustrating playing back); I'm naturally an attacking player. That's just my mindset, so sitting back there is a little irritating sometimes, but I know that I'm doing my job. ... But if I do get the chance to go up there, I will take full advantage."

Utah (1-0-1) had the best chance in a scoreless first half, about 27 minutes in, when Baylee Nielsen ripped a shot off the left goal post.

UK's best opportunity came five minutes in, when Cara Ledman's through ball set up Zoe Swift on a breakaway. Utes keeper Lindsey Luke came out to cut the angle and smother the shot.

That was one of four times the Wildcats got behind the defense, according to Lipsitz.

"It doesn't matter how much work you do," he said. "If you don't put those away, you're going to have a frustrating day."

"It's all about discipline. Heart," Gilliland said. "You can go out and practice that every day, but to sacrifice your body in the box to finish those goals is on you. That's inside you. And that's something we need to find as a team."

Swift nearly slipped a header into the net in the 71st minute, but Luke pulled the ball in near the goal line.

UK outshot the Utes 13-9. Luke made four saves, while UK's Kayla King had one.

"It's not what we wanted," Ledman said. "I thought we worked really hard but we couldn't finish our chances. We've got to fix that. We've got to get better, and that's something that we'll really work on this next week in practice."

Gilliland says she'll use her place as a captain to stoke the fire in a young team's belly.

"They just need to know that this is not our culture. We don't go on the road and lose, and then come home and tie on our field," she said. "I don't think they understand really yet what it is to be a Wildcat, to wear this jersey and be a part of the University of Kentucky. That's something we as captains need to step up and ingrain into every minute of practice, ingrain into their hearts and their souls. They literally need to bleed blue. That's on us. So we're going to work on that this next week and come out better."

Kentucky 0, Utah 0

Goalkeepers—U: Lindsey Luke; UK: Kayla King.

Records: Utah 1-0-1; UK 0-1-1.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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