By Andrew Adkins
Moving toward the end of the regular season, UK men’s soccer lost to Conference-USA foe Florida International University on Saturday, 4-1.
FIU was avenging a 5-1 loss in Lexington last season and its offense pressured UK’s goal from the outset.
The Panthers struck first during the 25th minute when freshman defender Marvin Hezel buried a short-range shot off a free kick by senior midfielder Gonzalo Frechilla.
The Cats were able to penetrate the FIU defense on several occasions in the first half, but failed to attempt a single shot-on-goal and closed out the half trailing 1-0.
In the second half, the score remained unchanged until FIU junior forward Quentin Albrecht capitalized on a through-pass from junior midfielder Roberto Alterio in the 57th minute, his sixth goal of the season.
The Cats struggled maintaining possession in the second half.
FIU scored again in the 72nd minute when Alterio navigated his way through the defense and drilled a shot in from 12 yards out.
UK attempted to slow FIU and generate some offense of their own with a flurry of substitutions, but to no avail.
Alterio scored again in the 78th minute with a bicycle-kick finish off a deflection by UK sophomore goalkeeper Callum Irving.
Despite a four-goal deficit, the Cats continued to attack and as a result scored their lone goal off the foot of sophomore defender Isak Krogstad from 25 yards out in the 89th minute.
The goal, Krogstad’s forth of the season, dashed FIU sophomore goalkeeper Daniel Mion’s bid for a shutout and gave the Cats their first score since Oct. 16.
UK attempted 12 shots and FIU attempted five shots on goal.
Second-year UK head coach Johan Cedergren was impressed with his team’s relentlessness after falling behind early.
“We put ourselves in a situation that’s hard to recover from,” Cedergren said. “But I never got the sense that the guys stopped fighting.”
Cedergren said the score was not totally indicative of who was the better team.
“I don’t think it was as lop-sided as the score showed,” he said.
FIU improved to 6-8-0 overall and 2-4-0 in the conference, while the defeat dropped the Cats to 4-8-2 overall and 1-3-2 in conference play this season.
UK needs to win at least two of its next three conference matches in order to compete in the C-USA Tournament beginning on Nov. 13, Cedergren said.
“I’m optimistic about the talent we have here, we just have to get better at winning games and putting opponents away,” he said. “We’ve got to squeeze out two conference wins in these last four regular season games.”
The Cats will have a chance to pick up one of those conference victories at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30 against rival Marshall University in Huntington, W.V.