On a sweltering Sunday in Lexington, the Eastern Kentucky University women’s soccer team overcame the heat to make history.
Kylie Thompson’s goal in the fourth minute was all the Colonels needed to knock off the University of Kentucky at the Bell Soccer Complex for the program’s first win over the Wildcats. Kentucky was 6-0 against EKU heading into the game.
After passes from Alyssa Julien and Idalys Rea, Thompson, a senior from Danville who graduated from Boyle County, scored on a shot to the far post.
The Colonels’ defense and freshman goalkeeper Zoe Aguirre took care of the rest. Aguirre made six saves on the day.
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EKU Coach Nick Flohre said the program has been steadily building toward Sunday’s result.
“Over the past couple of years the kids have gained more and more confidence that they could compete with UK and we’re proud of them for finally getting over that hurdle of actually beating them,” Flohre said on the team bus after the game. “It’s gotten to the point where the girls aren’t scared of the big schools anymore and it’s the same with any other big school we play.”
Monica Rios was crucial to the Colonels’ defensive effort. The senior midfielder, who graduated from Lexington Catholic, was ecstatic to break through against Kentucky after being part of last year’s 3-1 loss to the Wildcats.
“Oh my gosh it feels so good, it’s unreal,” she said. “I still can’t stop smiling.”
Rios felt a palpable sense of optimism amongst the team heading into the game.
“I think we came out knowing that we were just gonna beat it up today,” she said. “You could tell that we were gonna come out with a ton of passion, ready to play.
“After halftime I think that’s where it kicked in where we just worked our butts off after that.”
Not only did the Colonels overcome UK’s aggressive attempt at a rally, they overcame hot and humid conditions on the field.
“We took advantage of the space they were giving us and the main thing is we were really strong defensively. It was a little nerve-wracking at times but we bent, we didn’t break,” Flohre said. “We started hitting a wall with the fatigue from the heat, but we got to halftime just in time because we were starting to get a little shaky. In the second half they overcame it and the girls started to believe more and more that we’d get through with a win.”
The Colonels (4-2) have won four of their last five matches. They play at Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m. Friday before facing Louisville on the road this Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Kentucky (3-3) is on a three-game skid. The Cats return to action at Indiana at 5 p.m. Friday.