Bjorgolfsson’s penalty kick pushes No. 12 Kentucky past Xavier 2-1 in OT


Kentucky Wildcats forward Eythor Bjorgolfsson (9) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game winning goal 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

Braden Ramsey

In their first performance of 2020-21 without offensive centerpiece Kalil ElMedkhar and defensive stalwart Aime Mabika, the Cats were able to gut out a 2-1 overtime victory against the visiting Musketeers to begin their atypical spring slate.

Eythor Bjorgolfsson’s penalty kick, which he boomed into the bottom left portion of the net, sealed the deal for Kentucky. The goal was the sophomore forward out of Norway’s first-ever penalty kick score, and sixth career game-winning tally.

Aided by Xavier playing predominantly out of their back third, the Cats had numerous first half opportunities to change the scoring column. They had a whopping eight shots in the period, three of which were on target.

One of those eight came courtesy of Daniel Evans. His kick in the 36th minute was blocked by the Musketeer defense, but found teammate Brock Lindow off deflection. The junior from Toronto managed to snag the ball off the bounce, settle it down and fire it into goal’s top left corner to put Kentucky on the board.

The half ended with the Cats holding their 1-0 advantage, but they didn’t maintain it for long. Seven minutes into the second period, Karsen Henderlong delivered Xavier’s only on-target shot of the day. Assisted by Jerome Jolly, the Crown Point, Indiana native’s 52nd minute goal knotted things at one apiece.

The two schools combined for three shots the rest of regulation. With neither able to connect for a second time, they headed to overtime.

Robert Screen opened the match’s 97th minute with Kentucky’s fourth shot on target, but it was easily saved by Musketeer goalkeeper Matthew Rosenberg. Just 52 seconds later, Bjorgolfsson was put on the spot due a Xavier handball inside their penalty box. Once his kick slammed into the netting, the Cats swarmed him in celebration.

The game was the fifth straight between Kentucky and Xavier to go to an extra period. Wildcat goalie Ryan Troutman is now 5-0 on the year in net, while the Cats are 6-1 overall. The Musketeers, who just began regular season play Friday versus East Tennessee State, are now 1-1.

Next up for the twelfth-ranked team in the land is in-state foe Bowling Green, out of the Mid-American Conference. The Cats host the Falcons at The Bell on Saturday, Feb. 13. Opening kick is set for 3:00 p.m. E.T. on ESPN Plus.