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NCAA soccer tourney: Kentucky survives upset bid in shootout

Kentucky's Kaitlin Miller hugged keeper Taylor Braun after Braun saved the penalty kick that ended an overtime shootout with SIU-Edwardsville Saturday.
Kentucky's Kaitlin Miller hugged keeper Taylor Braun after Braun saved the penalty kick that ended an overtime shootout with SIU-Edwardsville Saturday. Herald-Leader

Kentucky did what it had to do Saturday, surviving and advancing in the first round of the women's NCAA Soccer Tournament.

Scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation and another 20 minutes of overtime at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex, Kentucky outscored Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 4-2 in a shootout.

The result was only fitting after UK dominated in every phase except for goals.

The Wildcats outshot the Cougars 31-4 and had a 17-0 bulge in corner kicks.

Kentucky (16-6), the No. 3 seed in the Charlottesville, Va., regional, will face Arizona State in the second round. The game is set for Friday at 3 p.m. in Charlottesville.

The Wildcats, playing in their fourth consecutive NCAA tourney, reached the second round each of the last two years only to be knocked out by UCLA.

SIU-Edwardsville (13-7-1) is the Ohio Valley Conference champion.

UK's Arin Gilliland opened the shootout with a goal, and SIUE's Michelle Auer missed wide right.

Both teams scored in the second round of the best-of-five shootout, Kaitlin Miller for UK and Rachael Brots for the Cougars.

Both scored in the third round as well, Cara Ledman for UK and Cory Levels for SIUE.

UK's Michaela Dooley opened the fourth round with a goal.

Then, goalkeeper Taylor Braun stopped Cassidy Sherman's shot to end the match.

"I was just looking at the girl," Braun said. "And I said to myself, 'you know what, you just need to save one of these balls because ... I need to end this right here.

"... I just reacted and got a hand on it, and it felt great."

SIUE's strategy was clear. Defense first — and second.

"They had a very clear game plan, executed it extremely well and made life very difficult for us," UK Coach Jon Lipsitz said. "... It's exactly the test that we needed, no doubt about it.

"I thought we were frustrated and played poorly in the first half. I thought we were very good in the second half. People will look at it and go 'well, how did you not score?' Well, we had 18 shots in the second half. We had nine corners. They had two back saves. We had a ball literally held on the line. That's frustrating but at the same time, what I'm going to say to my team is I thought we reacted very well after halftime and played very well. And got ourselves more than enough opportunities."

UK dominated possession in a scoreless first half with several solid chances to score. The Cats outshot SIUE 9-3, although shots on goal were 2-2.

About 18 minutes in, Emma Brown put a shot off the crossbar. Zoe Swift pounced on the rebound, but was denied on a diving save by Cougars goalkeeper Jennifer Pelley.

A minute and a half later, the Wildcats' Gilliland had a goal wiped out by an offside call.

Another good look for UK came about 34½ minutes in, when Ledman crossed the ball. Jade Klump's header sailed just high.

UK continued to apply pressure early in the second half. A minute and a half in, Klump got a one-touch from point-blank range, only to be stopped by Pelley.

Gilliland nearly put in a one-touch at the 67-minute mark, but Pelley was on the spot once again.

And so it went. Through regulation, UK had a whopping 15-0 margin in corner kicks. SIUE had no shots in the second half.

An initial 10-minute, sudden-death overtime netted nothing.

With about a minute left in the second overtime, Gilliland put a header on target. Pelley made a diving save, right at the goal line.

From there, it was on to the shootout.

KENTUCKY 0, SIU-EDWARDSVILLE 0 (SO)

Shootout goals UK: 4 (Gilliland, Miller, Ledman, Dooley). SIUE: 2 (Brots, Levels).

Goalkeepers UK: Taylor Braun. SIUE: Jennifer Pelley.

Records: Kentucky 16-6, SIU-Edwardsville (13-7-1).

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