No. 14 Kentucky and No. 25 Coastal Carolina draw in season opener


Kentucky Wildcats forward Eythor Bjorgolfsson (9) kicks in the game winning penalty kick during UK’s game against Xavier on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, at The Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 2-1. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Barkley Truax

The Wildcats are back in action for the 2021 season, opening the book to page one to face the No. 25 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers just 16 weeks after ending their 2020 campaign in the NCAA Tournament round of 16.

This was the first meeting between No. 14 Kentucky and the No. 25 Chanticleers as C-USA opponents and ended as tightly contested as you could imagine: in a draw.

Defenders Robert Screen, Luis Grassow and Oliver Juul never left the pitch, seeing all 110 minutes of action while Junior forward Eythor Bjorgolfsson’s two shots on goal on four attempts led Kentucky in both categories; overall, Kentucky finished with six shots on goal on 17 total attempts compared to Coastal’s five on 10 attempts. 

Prior to kickoff, the Wildcats and Chanticleers had met twice all time, where both squads had one win against the other. Their last meeting came on Sept. 28, 2019 where a then-ranked No. 8 Kentucky team won 1-0.

The first half was dominated by Kentucky’s 10 shot attempts, three of which were on goal compared to one Coastal shot, which happened to be on goal. Kentucky also led when it came to corner kicks, 8-1 in the first 45 minutes. 

Kentucky dominated both scoring opportunities and possession in the first with sophomore midfielder Enzo Mauriz and Bjorgolfsson giving the Wildcats the closest chance to put the ball into the back of the net.

Despite the statistical differences, the two top-25 teams were knotted nil-nil at half.

Coastal came back with five shots (two on goal) in the second half. Kentucky out-performed their opponents once again with six second half shot attempts, finishing the 90-minute period with 16 total shots and five on goal; you can say it was a busy day for Chanticleer true freshman goalkeeper Joey Batrouni.

Batrouni was matched by Kentucky’s goalkeeper, who was also making his debut for his respective program. Grad transfer Jan Hoffelner finished the game with five saves and was inside the box for 100 minutes of opening-night action.

Bjorgolfsson and senior forward Mason Visconti both had chances for Kentucky to come away with a regulation-winning goal, but came up short thanks to the Chanticleers’ defense and were sent to the first 10-minute extra period. 

Some timely takeaways and forced stops from both defensive units proved too much for either team’s offensive strategies and both 10-minute overtimes ended just as regulation had, with no score and both sides begin their season with an 0-0-1 record.

The Wildcats are set to play their home opener at The Bell on Monday, Aug. 30 against Wright State at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+.