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Kentucky women's soccer aims for big goal on Senior Night

Arin Gilliland
is projected 
to be a 
top-five pick in  January's national draft.
Arin Gilliland is projected to be a top-five pick in January's national draft.

Kentucky's women's soccer team celebrates Senior Night on Thursday in a home finale against Alabama.

"It's definitely emotional," said Lexington native Arin Gilliland, one of the team's four seniors and, arguably, the best player in the history of the program.

The other seniors playing their final home game are Maddie Lockridge (Nicholasville), Emma Brown (Louisville) and Stuart Pope (Fayetteville, Ga.).

Gilliland, who played for West Jessamine High School before coming to UK, will graduate in December. She is projected as a top-five pick in January's National Women's Soccer League Draft. Her 268 shots on goal are a school career record.

Kentucky has won five straight matches, all by shutouts. That season-best winning streak includes victories over three ranked teams: No. 24 South Carolina, No. 5/4 Florida and No. 22 Georgia.

UK will be a No. 2 or 3 seed in the upcoming Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Alabama goes into Thursday's game at No. 4 in the SEC standings.

Gilliland acknowledged the emotions that accompany a Senior Night. But in this case the game carries meaning beyond a sentimental send-off: the possibility of being a top-16 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

"That's making history in this program," Gilliland said. "And that's what this team is all about: Making statements and leaving a legacy and pushing to exceed expectations. ... Every person on this team has the motivation, the drive, the technical ability, the fitness, everything you need in a champion. And it's right there for them to grab."