‘Cats draw against Dayton, second in five matches


Kentucky Wildcats midfielder Úlfa Úlfarsdóttir (20) dribbles past a defender during UK’s game against Marshall on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, at Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Jack Weaver

Barkley Truax

Kentucky (2-1-2) looked to remain undefeated at home Thursday night against the Dayton Flyers (3-1-1) and did so, but not in the manner they had hoped for, drawing nil-nil on a chilly September night.

Both teams had chances in the final two minutes of the second overtime, in which Jordyn Rhodes’ 107 minute shot cracked off the goalpost and flew out of bounds, directly followed by a Flyer ball headed to top center that was just short enough for Kentucky goalkeeper Laura Nielsen to smack out of bounds before the draw was made official.

The Flyers out-shot Kentucky 22-14 (11-6 on goal) in a physical match that featured 30 total fouls. Dayton also edged out the ‘Cats on corners 6-4. 

Ulfa Ulfarsdottir led Kentucky with two shots on goal in 110 minutes of action. Jordyn Rhodes, Lilly Huber, Julia Grosso, Caroline Trout and Peyton Rimko all also played a full game.

The ‘Cats were coming off their first loss of the season against No. 15 South Florida 2-1 down in Tampa. Sara Makoben-Blessing was the lone Wildcat to score in that match, giving Kentucky the lead until USF netted two straight for the victory. For the Flyers’, their three-game win streak to begin 2021 ended with a 1-0 loss to Toledo on Aug. 30. 

Prior to Thursday’s battle at The Bell, Kentucky and Dayton had met seven times before 2021, where the ‘Cats led the all-time series 4-2-1. The last time these two squads matched up was back in 2013, where UK won at Dayton, 3-1.

Starting out slower than expected, a third minute yellow card given to Kenucky’s Makoben-Blessing was the most notable statistic during the first 45 minutes. Other wise, the ‘Cats, and Dayton for that matter, were walking through the motions.

While Kentucky couldn’t get anything going in the first half, that didn’t mean it wasn’t a busy day for goalkeeper Nielsen, who recorded three saves as both squads remained scoreless at the half. Dayton had the edge on the stat sheet in regards to possession percentage 6-4 in shots 9-2. None of the ‘Cats first half shots were on goal. 

Nielsen finished Thursday’s match with 11 total saves in 110 minutes, averaging one save every 10 minutes, bringing her total to 31 on the season. 

Kentucky was more aggressive in the second half, pressing the Flyer defense early and often, complimented by shots from Ulfarsdottir, Maria Bosco and Hannah Richardson, all saved Dayton goalkeeper Madelyn Dewey. Five of Kentucky’s first six shots were on goal in the period.

Her busy second half continued as Kentucky kept things on the Flyers’ side of the pitch, but every shot Kentucky took just couldn’t find the net. Every time the ‘Cats would have momentum swing their way, Dewey would make a play and halt Kentucky’s scoring hopes.

Kentucky had eight golden opportunities to score in the second half, six of which were on goal. Both teams were looking for answers nearing the end of a scoreless regulation and none were answered as they headed into a first overtime period. 

Nothing came of the first golden goal period, and neither did the second, resulting in Kentucky’s second draw in their first five games, the first of which was at Purdue (1-1) in the season opener.

Kentucky’s next match is set for Sunday, Sept. 5 at The Bell against Oakland at 7 p.m.