Men’s soccer ends regular season with big win; prepares for conference tournament


Kentucky celebrates forward Ben Damge’s (27) goal during the University of Kentucky vs. Duquesne men’s soccer game on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, at the Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-1. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky men’s soccer concluded their regular season on Friday with a 3-0 win over FAU at The Bell. With the win, the Cats finish their regular season with a record of 11-1-4, one of their best in history. 

En route to their 11 win season, the Wildcats had 10 shut out games on the back of St John’s transfer goalie Jan Hoffelner. Hoeffelner, a graduate student, only allowed four goals all season — with two coming in the Wildcats’ lone loss of the season on the road against Charlotte.

The Wildcats played four ranked opponents during their regular season, three coming in conference play, but didn’t allow a goal to a single one. 

Kentucky started their season on the road against then No. 25 Coastal Carolina, with that game resulting in a 0-0 draw.

The next time the Cats would play a ranked opponent would be late September when they traveled to Huntington to face the reigning national champions, then No. 5 Marshall. Yet again, Kentucky fought to a 0-0 draw.

Not long after, they hosted then No. 20 FIU at The Bell, which once again concluded in a 0-0 draw. 

The streak of 0-0 draws against ranked opponents came to an end, however, in mid-October when Kentucky hosted then No. 25 West Virginia. Both teams entered the second overtime without a goal, but senior forward Daniel Evans scored for the Wildcats halfway through the period.

Kentucky went undefeated through the first 14 games of the season before its lone loss came against Charlotte in overtime. Kentucky fell 2-1 after allowing a goal during the first extra period.

On top of the games against then ranked opponents, Kentucky also boasts a win over currently ranked No. 20 Notre Dame. The Wildcats won 1-0 at home early on in the season, with St Mary’s transfer Luke Andrews scoring the lone goal of the affair.

Despite the win-loss record appearing stout, Kentucky entered the Conference-USA tournament ranked fourth, having a regular season conference record of 3-1-4. After disposing of Coastal Carolina 3-1 on Wednesday, Nov. 10, in the first round, the Cats will attempt to knock off the top seeded FIU Panthers on Friday, Nov. 12. The Conference-USA championship is also set for Sunday, Nov. 14, with the conference’s auto bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake.

Kentucky also found themselves ranked No. 5 in the initial NCAA Top 16 list for the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament as well. All 16 teams, when the list is finalized, will be awarded a first round bye in the tournament and a guaranteed home game in the second round.

“We only have one loss in 16 games,” head coach Johan Cedergren said after the team’s regular season finale. “We have wins over teams like Louisville, Notre Dame and West Virginia. I think that shows we can play with anyone, and we’re not afraid of anyone.”