Kentucky and Purdue battle to a draw in season opener


Kentucky women’s soccer players celebrate a point during the game against Western Bowling Green State University on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, at the Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. The game ended in a tie with a score of 3-3. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky women’s soccer would play to a draw in their season opener on the road against Purdue. 

The Boilermakers got out on the front foot early against the Wildcats, as they rattled off five shots and two corner kicks in the first 20 minutes of the match, forcing just one save from UK goalkeeper Laura Nielsen.

Kentucky’s first chance would come off of the boot of Hannah Richardson in the 23rd minute, forcing a save from Purdue goalie Marisa Bova.

Richardson would get a second chance just minutes later, and she would make the most of it. The Bartlett, Illinois native laced a left-footed strike from outside the box and slotted it past Bova in the bottom-left corner, giving Kentucky a 1-0 lead, against the run of play.

The Richardson strike was the last shot-on-goal in the first half, as the Cats went into the second-half with the lead. 

The first half was a physical one that saw 10 fouls committed, seven of which were at the hands of UK players. Purdue collected three corner kicks to Kentucky’s zero, but couldn’t capitalize on any opportunities. 

The second half would get off to a rapid pace, as Kentucky star-forward Jordyn Rhodes finally got into the action in the 46th minute, creating a shot that forced a save from Bova.

The Boilermakers would race down to the other end of the pitch, and senior forward Sarah Griffith created herself space at the top-left edge of the penalty box, eventually lofting a shot over Nielsen that nestled in the bottom-right corner, tying the match at one goal a piece. 

The Cats would continue to push the pace after conceding a goal, as Rhodes came inches from re-gaining UK the lead after hitting the left post.

Purdue would respond, as a 61st minute scuffle in the box ended with Nielsen saving a Gracie Dunaway shot, preserving the tie for Kentucky.

Ten minutes later Nielsen found herself again on the end of a save, this time from Purdue senior Sydney Duarte.

The Cats would turn up the pressure midway through the second half, as Rhodes, Julia Grosso and Anna Young all forced Bova saves. The Wildcats peppered the Purdue goal with seven shots in the second set of 45. 

The final ten minutes of regulation echoed the feel of the first half, as Kentucky committed three more fouls, finishing in a lull as the two teams found themselves deadlocked at one goal a piece. The season opener would head to overtime. 

UK would start overtime on the front foot, firing two errant shots that failed to test Bova. The 97th minute saw Nielsen make a save on a 30-yard shot from Purdue’s Olivia Simmons.

Bova would then deny UK midfielder Úlfa Úlfarsdóttir of a goal in the 102nd minute, her sixth save of the match.

Nielsen would respond on the other end, blocking a Grace Walsh strike for her fifth save of the game as both teams searched for a winning goal. 

The 109th minute saw Nielsen match Bova with save No. 6, pushing a Griffith shot out for a corner. 

The Boilermakers would earn another corner in the dying embers of the match, but UK’s defense would hold on in the end, and the match would finish tied at one. 

Fast-paced action fueled the overtime action, and Kentucky earned a hard-fought decision away from him in their season opener thanks to a beautiful goal from Hannah Richardson and stone-cold goalkeeping from Laura Nielsen. 

Purdue outshot the Cats 18-14, but both teams finished with seven shots on goal. Nielsen and Bova matched each other with six saves each, while Kentucky committed 15 fouls to Purdue’s eight. 

Kentucky will return to action this Sunday, as they host the Marshall Thundering Herd in the 2021 home opener at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex. The match is set to kick-off at 5:00 p.m. E.T and will be available to watch on SEC Network+. Admission to The Bell is free.