The University of Kentucky men’s soccer team faces a dangerous opponent in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. It’s a task for which the Wildcats should be well-prepared.
The Creighton Bluejays from Omaha, Neb., visit UK for a 4:30 p.m. match at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.
Creighton (12-6-3) suffered three consecutive one-goal losses between Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 but bounced back to win four of its most recent five matches. The Bluejays received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after following up a third-place finish in the Big East Conference with a runner-up effort in the league’s postseason tournament.
Kentucky (11-4-3) has not played since Nov. 9, when Coach Johan Cedergren’s club was eliminated on penalty kicks by New Mexico in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament. UK finished fourth in the league during the regular season, but the Wildcats still secured the No. 16 overall seed in the 48-team NCAA field and received a first-round bye.
“We’re really excited about this game,” senior captain Charlie Reymann said. “It’s been more than a week since we played last so we’ve had time to prepare. We’ve been wanting to get to the tournament all year — especially getting to the second round and seeing what happens so we’re looking forward to Sunday.”
About the Cats
Kentucky is making its third consecutive NCAA appearance and fourth in the past five seasons. This is the first time the Cats have earned a first-round bye. The Wildcats are 1-7-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. UK’s best tournament finish was a Sweet 16 in 2000.
Kentucky is undefeated at home this season (8-0-2).
Napo Matsoso leads UK with eight goals and four assists. Reymann has a team-high nine assists. Goalkeeper Stuart Ford has nine shutouts and a 0.74 goals-against average.
About the Jays
Creighton comes to Lexington off a first-round victory over Tulsa on Thursday in Omaha.
Riggs Lennon and Ricky Lopez-Espin lead Creighton with 10 goals each, while Joel Rydstrand leads the team with seven assists. The Bluejays average 1.81 goals per match and rank amoung the top five in Division I with 16.9 shots per match.
Ten Bluejays have scored at least one goal, and six have converted two or more.
Big East Midfielder of the Year Ricardo Perez has 10 points from three goals and four assists, including two during postseason play.
Big East Co-Goalkeeper of the Year Alex Kapp leads the conference with eight shutouts and holds a 0.73 goals against average.
Tickets are available from the UK ticket office and online for $8 for adults, $5 for youth (ages 3-18) and seniors (ages 65 and over). Fans 2 and younger get in free, as do UK students with a valid ID. Call (800) 928-2287 for more information.
Creighton at Kentucky
What: NCAA Tournament second-round match
Where: UK’s Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex
When: 4:30 p.m.
Live video broadcast: SEC Network Plus (online only)
Records: Creighton 12-6-3, Kentucky 11-4-3
Series: Creighton leads 2-0-0
Last meeting: Creighton won 2-0 on Sept. 21, 2011, in Omaha, Neb.