The University of Kentucky women's soccer team set an attendance record Friday night as 3,371 fans packed the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex to witness UK's 1-0 win against Louisville.
UK has now won five straight against the Cardinals.
The attendance dwindled after a passing storm delayed the start of the game for more than an hour. With game-time temperatures encroaching 90 degrees and lightning pushing back the start time to nearly 9 p.m., a sparse crowd remained to watch the annual in-state rivalry game.
"It's hard," UK Coach Jon Lipsitz said of the delay. "We had a buildup all week, we had a buildup all day. Then fireworks go off and we're all excited and then there's a delay. But both teams have to deal with that and it's a chance to show your mental strength."
Those fans that left missed a contested, and at times, heated match. Four yellow cards were issued in the game, two for each team.
No 22 UK (4-1-0) pushed the tempo from the outset, resulting in an early Zoe Swift shot that sailed high. Louisville (1-2-1) entered the contest averaging 18.7 shots per game, but was held to just four shots in the first half and 10 in the game — the result of a stiff UK defense and shots that soared far over UK goalkeeper Katelyn Jensen.
The highlight of the first half was the frenetic play of UK's Courtney Raetzman. Be it on defense or offense, Raetzman was a fixture throughout the pitch. She finished the game with two shots on goal.
"You can see, and everyone can see how Courtney can absolutely take over a game," Lipsitz said. "I actually thought there were times that she was doing too much. The thing about Courtney is every time she gets the ball she tries to win the game for her team, because she loves her team that much."
The opening minutes of the second half belonged to UK after it launched two shots that were deflected by Louisville defenders in the first five minutes. Raetzman then found herself in the midst of a scuffle with Louisville's Alison Price, but UK's Katy Keen interjected and along with Price, was given a yellow card.
"You have to be strong against them, especially with my stature," the 4-foot-11 Raetzman said. "I need to do something right with that. I really have to hold them off to just keep up with them, because they're a lot bigger than I am."
UK quickly responded after Jade Klump slipped a pass through Louisville's defenders near the Cardinals' goal, but the ball was deflected en route to a sprinting Michaela Dooley. Louisville, however, was undeterred by the near miss and nearly scored on a Casey Whitfield shot that just missed the top beam.
Fresh off the yellow card, Keen continued an impressive second half with her first collegiate goal after her shot in the 58th minute gave UK the first lead of the game. Keen finished the game with two shots.
'The second half was really good," Keen, a Penn State transfer, said. "The team played really, really well. We ended up keeping the ball more."
The Cats were not out of the water yet, though. The Cardinals nearly equalized on a corner that rebounded into the congested UK box. Jensen somehow found the ball through the mass of bodies, ending the threat.
"We haven't had a game quite like that," Lipsitz said. "There's so much more emotion in a rivalry game."
Men: Kentucky 2, Wright State 1
The No. 17 University of Kentucky men's soccer defeated Wright State 2-1 on Friday after forward Andrew McKelvey's game-winning shot with 10 minutes left ended the Raiders' upset bid.
Wright State (2-2) took an opening lead 18 minutes into the match when midfielder AJ Paterson's first goal of the season slipped by UK's goalie Callum Irving. UK (2-0) struggled to respond, but midfielder Noah Hutchins' equalizer in the 56th minute halted any Raiders momentum. Wright State finished the game with just one shot on goal. In contrast, UK finished with four shots on goal and 13 total.
Napo Matsoso: 4 shots in 83 minutes
Andrew McKelvey: 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots and 1 shot on goal
Noah Hutchins: 1 goal, 3 shots and 1 shot on goal