Second-half goals by Stuart Pope and Arin Gilliland carried Kentucky to a 2-0 victory over Louisville at the UK Soccer Complex.
Yet, the game wasn't won only by what transpired Friday night, according to UK Coach Jon Lipsitz.
"We can't call timeout. Our work is largely done before the game begins," Lipsitz said. "And our only time to sort of make those major coaching adjustments is at halftime. ... But don't be confused. This wasn't about me making an adjustment.
"This was about the players, all week, deciding that we were going to win this game. It was interesting, we typically talk about 'let's play our best.' And they talked very differently this week. It wasn't about anything other than we're going to find a way to win. And I think for a young team that shows some maturity, and we'll see where we go from here."
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The Wildcats, starting three freshmen and four sophomores, have won three in a row since an 0-1-1 start. Going back to last year, UK is 12-1-2 over 15 home matches.
Each team had five shots in a scoreless first half. The Cardinals pressed the action for the first 20 minutes, then UK got into the flow. The Wildcats finished the half with a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Second half was more pressure from the Cats.
"We talked about the fact that we thought we were playing well, we were possessing the ball well, but we had to get something from it," Lipsitz said. "They really responded well at halftime. We made a very specific adjustment for what we wanted to do before we crossed the ball and they did it."
Pope scored at 50:43, taking a crossing pass from Courtney Raetzman and one-timing a bender into the net.
"I just always want to be a part of the first goal, so I like to find a way to help my team out, get the spark going," Pope said.
Louisville (1-2-1) turned up the heat in the last 15 minutes, taking more chances in order to attack.
That strategy burned the Cards when Gilliland and Zoe Swift swooped in two-on-two.
"I don't know where my run started. I was very tired by then. Probably from the half all the way to the PK line," Gilliland said. "I just knew I had all this space, and my quality is running at people. So I knew I could excel there, so I ran straight at them, ran right at the belly button, took them in because I knew the other defender would come in and I could draw the foul, so that's exactly what I was going for."
Awarded a penalty kick at 84:20, Gilliland simply overpowered goalkeeper Paige Brown, who got her hands on the shot.
"To be honest, on the PK, I usually place them," Gilliland said. "But I was so tired, I literally just kicked the crap out of it. That was my tactic."
Kayla King did the rest, making four saves in the UK net to record her second straight shutout against her hometown team.
"Shutouts are what we always want," King said. "And it's a little sweeter against Louisville, on our home field in front of our home crowd."
If the win wasn't sweet enough, King even turned away a shot that came a second after the match ended.
"Any save that keeps the ball out of the net, I love it," King said. "Actually, you know what my favorite one was? It was the one after time went off. Because it was like I know the game's over but if she's going to shoot it, I'm going to save it. So that was pretty sweet."
U of L Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes credited Pope for being the biggest difference.
"I thought our big line was great. I thought we were good through the midfield but I thought they were better. And then I thought we were good up top, we just didn't score the chances that we actually created. That's the game of soccer, for sure."
Kentucky 2, Louisville 0
G—UK: Stuart Pope, Arin Gilliland.
GK—UL: Paige Brown; UK: Kayla King.
Records: Louisville 1-2-1; UK 3-1-1
Dayton at Kentucky: Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
Louisville at Miami (Ohio): Sunday, 1 p.m.