By Tyler Spanyer
Following two consecutive conference losses, UK needed a big win to boost their postseason resume.
After playing 75 minutes of intense action senior defender Jacob Kemper scored his first career goal on a laser shot from 30 yards out, leading the Cats to 1-0 victory over Memphis in the first round of the Conference USA tournament.
UK is now 10-8-1 and will face regular season league champion No. 19 SMU on Friday. “We played really well,” said head coach Johan Cedergren following the game. “Our last two results didn’t go the way we wanted, but I am very happy with the guys and how they responded.”
UK junior keeper Jack Van Arsdale secured his fifth shutout of the year with a career high six save performance. Van Arsdale made two critical first half saves followed by three second half saves that helped secure the win.
Kemper scored off a corner kick late in the second half. The cross was played in by senior Matt Lodge and was deflected out to Kemper who hit a one-touch strike from 30 yards out that just barely caught the backside of the net.
“I was sitting at the halfway line when the ball popped out, and I just hit it,” said Kemper after the game. “I got lucky and hit it well.”
UK will face SMU on Friday at 6 P.M. in Hoover, Al., with the winner advancing to the C-USA championship game.