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By Kyle Arensdorf
The UK men’s soccer team makes its 2013 debut with a doubleheader to begin a six-game spring schedule on Saturday.
The games will take place at the UK Soccer Complex and feature Southern Indiana in the first match and Georgetown College in the second.
Southern Indiana is coming off its best season in nearly 10 years, making the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament for the first time since 2003 and reaching the tournament semifinals for the first time since 2002.
The Tigers of Georgetown College will travel to Lexington after a season that resulted in a 3-15 record as well as a 2-7 conference record in the Mid-South Conference.
UK had an impressive season in 2012, achieving a 10-9-2 record and an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in nine seasons as first-year head coach Johan Cedergren took the helm.
The Cats were ousted from the first round of the NCAA tournament by No. 19 Xavier, 1-0.
Xavier head coach Andy Fleming praised what Cedergren and his coaching staff had accomplished in their first season after his team’s win.
“Having taken over a program myself, it’s not the easiest thing to get everybody on board and find immediate success,” Fleming said to UK Athletics. “That being said, they did it.”
There were six senior departures from the 2012 team: midfielders Gabriel Conelian, Matt Lodge, Charley Pettys and Cameron Wilder, and defensemen Jacob Kemper and Byron Vega.
Lodge was the team’s leading scorer, along with junior forward Tyler Riggs, with seven goals, although Riggs took only 38 shots to Lodge’s 72.
Wilder was picked in the third round of the 2013 Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft by FC Dallas, making him the fourth player in program history to be picked in the MLS Draft.
“(Lodge and Wilder) were here three years before we got here and it’s been some tough years for them but everything I have asked of them they have bought in 100 percent and they have been a huge part of why we have done so well this year,” Cedergren said to UK Athletics.
Junior Jack Van Arsdale finished his first year as starting goalkeeper with 58 saves on the season with a save percentage of .734, also racking up five shutouts in just 19 games played.
Van Arsdale finished the year with a 1.10 goals-against average, ranking as the 11th-best total in UK single-season history.
The Richmond, Va., native also owns a 1.21 goals-against average in his two-year UK career, ranking sixth-best in UK history.
The Cats will try to continue the success of their 2012 season with two wins on Saturday.
The first kick will start at 3:30 p.m. with the second match to follow after the break.