Kentucky men’s soccer to face Marshall in C-USA tournament semifinals


The Kentucky men’s soccer team poses for a group photo after a victory after the senior night game against Old Dominion at the Bell Soccer Complex on Friday November 2, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated Old Dominion 3-0. Photo by Olivia Beach | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

The UK men’s soccer team will face the Marshall University Thundering Herd in the first semifinal match of the Air Force Reserve Conference USA Men’s Soccer Championship tomorrow night at 4:30 p.m. at Transamerica Field in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Five-seeded Marshall upset the Florida International University Panthers Wednesday afternoon, 2-1, in the conference quarterfinal. UK, the number one seed and awarded with a bye, awaited the winner of yesterday afternoon’s game.

Marshall faced the Cats in Lexington on Oct. 13 and pushed them to the limit, but UK edged out a 1-0 win in its second double overtime game this season.

The two also have history dating back to last year’s conference tournament. Marshall defeated UK in the first round last year 1-0, in Norfolk, Virginia. The Cats lead the all-time series against Marshall 20-9-3.

UK clinched the C-USA regular season title against Old Dominion last Friday and finished the regular season 15-1-1 (6-1 C-USA). The Cats enter the tournament as a one seed for the first time since 2015. They also enter the tournament riding a six-game win streak.

This year’s Cats team boasts multiple conference award recipients that will look to propel their team to uncharted territory.

Williams was named C-USA Player of the Year and Offensive MVP after he led the C-USA in goals with 14. Jason Reyes earned the Freshman of the Year award he led all UK freshman in goals with seven. Johan Cedergren picked up the Coach of the Year honor for the third time in five seasons.

Aimé Mabika, Enrique Faccuse, Kalil Elmedkhar and Williams were each named All-Conference First Team members.

Marshall finished the season 8-8-3 (3-3-2 C-USA), which was good for fifth in the conference. The Thundering Herd are led by second-year head coach Chris Grassie.

The team finished fourth in the conference in goals scored with 31. Led by goalkeeper Paulo Pita, the team finished third in the conference in saves with 76. Marshall had four players named to All-Conference Teams.

UK has never won a conference tournament since joining the C-USA in 2005. It won three consecutive conference titles from 1999 to 2001 when it was a member of the Mid-American Athletic Conference. A win on Friday will put UK in this Sunday’s conference tournament championship game.

Friday’s game will be streamed on ESPN+.