The University of Kentucky men’s soccer team earned a spot in the Conference USA championship game for the first time since 2008.
The No. 1 seeded Wildcats edged No. 5 Marshall, 2-1, in the C-USA Tournament semifinals in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday. It was the seventh straight win for Kentucky, which improved to 16-1-1 on the year. Marshall also gave the Cats a tough game back in October, holding them scoreless in regulation before UK won 1-0 in double overtime.
On Friday, UK jumped out to a 2-0 lead early and held off the Herd. Kalil ElMedkhar got the Wildcats going with a goal in the seventh minute. Senior forward JJ Williams, who this week was named Conference USA Player of the Year, added Kentucky’s second goal 10 minutes later. It was Williams’ 15th goal of the season.
Williams has scored at least once in five of UK’s last six games.
Marshall’s JP Rylah scored his second goal of the tournament 15 minutes into the second half to get the Thundering Herd on the board.
Kentucky, ranked No. 3 nationally in the United Soccer Coaches poll, will face either Old Dominion or Charlotte in the conference title game at 1 p.m. Sunday with an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line.
The 48-team NCAA Tournament includes 24 automatic qualifiers and 24 at-large selections. The top-16 teams will be seeded and will receive first-round byes before hosting second-round games. The tournament field will be revealed online at 1 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.
Kentucky vs. Old Dominion or Charlotte, 1 p.m. Sunday