Nothing comes easy in the NCAA Tournament, and the University of Kentucky women's soccer team almost found that out the hard way last Saturday.
Kentucky, seeded No. 3 in its region, played unheralded visitor Southern Illinois-Edwardsville to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtimes before finally defeating the Cougars on penalty kicks.
The competition gets no easier in round two. The Wildcats take on Arizona State at Charlottesville, Va.
Kentucky is making its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance under sixth-year head coach Jon Lipsitz and is aiming to break through to the Sweet 16 after being stopped in the second round each of the past two years.
The Wildcats are 8-1-1 in their last 10 matches
The Sun Devils (12-5-4) finished eighth in the 14-team Pacific 12 Conference this season but gained entrance into the NCAA field by virtue of four victories over schools ranked in the top 40 of the RPI.
ASU beat No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 30 Arizona, No. 34 Oklahoma State and No. 39 Southern Cal during the regular season. Texas A&M won the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship and defeated Kentucky in the title game of the SEC Tournament.
Arizona State advanced to Friday's meeting with Kentucky by beating Northern Arizona 4-2 last Saturday.
The Sun Devils' leading scorer is Cali Farquharson, who has 14 goals and four assists. Aly Moon has 10 goals and six assists. Goalkeeper Chandler Morris has a 0.86 goals-against average and has seven shutouts.
Kentucky, rated No. 17 in the RPI, has defeated No. 10 Florida, No. 11 South Carolina, No. 29 Auburn this season.
Kentucky dominated throughout against SIU-Edwardsville but was unable to find the net. The Cats outshot the Cougars 31-4, and had 17 corner kicks to none for their foes.
The Wildcats got goals in the penalty kick shootout from senior Arin Gilliland, sophomore Kaitlin Miller, junior Cara Ledman and sophomore Michaela Dooley. Freshman goalkeeper Taylor Braun made the game-winning save.
■ Friday's match will not have any television or live streaming coverage because the Virginia men's basketball team is using the school's video streaming facilities.