The Kentucky women's soccer team made school history Monday, earning its first NCAA Tournament national seed.
UK will host SIU-Edwardsville (13-6-1, 8-2-0 Ohio Valley Conference) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in its fourth straight season as a first-round host.
"You're looking at a senior class that is leaving quite a legacy," said Jon Lipsitz, the UK coach who has never shied from tournament talk with his team. "This is their fourth year in a row in the NCAAs and that's never happened before in this program. So it's something we want to be able to say about every class in the future, but we never take it for granted."
Kentucky earned the No. 3 national seed in the Charlottesville, Va., regional.
"I don't think any of us in this room were surprised that we got seeded," Kentucky's Stuart Pope said. "We've all been in here the last month and we've seen the change that's happened to our team."
A big part of that confidence comes from Pope's co-captain and fellow senior, homegrown star Arin Gilliland, whom Lipsitz has called the "best player who's ever played at the University of Kentucky."
"We're doing things every year that haven't been done before," Gilliland, this year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year, said. "That's kind of something we like to do. What have we not done yet that can be done in this program? I think that's something we're leaving with the classes below us."
SIU-Edwardsville was both the regular season and the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion, coming from two goals behind with less than 10 minutes left to claim the OVC title in overtime.
The Wildcats finish the regular season 15-6-0, winning eight of their last nine matches. Two wins would allow them to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history, but they aren't letting themselves look that far ahead.
"We always prepare for success and we'll be prepare for each match, but we will not even look at film or discuss film on anyone other than our Saturday opponent," Lipsitz said. "That's all that matters to us."