Kentucky men’s soccer wins first-ever C-USA tournament title


Kentucky celebrates a goal during 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

For the first time in team history, the UK men’s soccer team won the C-USA tournament championship Sunday afternoon in Charlotte.

The no. 1 seed Cats earned the title following a 1-0 victory over the no. 3 seed UNC Charlotte 49ers at Transamerica Field in Charlotte on Sunday afternoon. J.J. Williams carried his team once more with a goal right after halftime in the 47th minute, giving him his C-USA leading 16th goal this season.

UK has now defeated UNC Charlotte twice this season. UNC Charlotte lost in Lexington, 1-0, back in September. The Cats are riding an eight-game win streak and have broken the school record for most wins in a season with 17.

UNCC, appearing in its second consecutive C-USA title game, looked to appease its high-energy gold rush of 49ers fans on its home turf. The loss was UNC Charlotte’s first loss at home this season.

As soon as the game began, the 49ers tried to set the momentum their way. Roughly three minutes into the game, the Cats’ keeper Enrique Facusse saved two abrupt Charlotte shots, diving to his right to save the first one. UK blocked two more shots and left UNCC in its tracks.

Despite the stop, UNCC held down the fort against UK offense in the first half. UK was outshot by the 49ers 12-3 overall in the first half and 7-1 in the corner. It’s the third time that UK has been outshot in the first half this season. UNCC entered the game outshooting its opponents in the first half, 121-64, this season.

Hoping to respond to top-ranked defense in the C-USA, the Cats showed how badly they wanted to bring home the C-USA tournament title. A minute and a half into the second half, Williams killed the hopes of the Charlotte natives and fans in attendance.

UK got the ball through to Williams inside the box. All he had to do was finish the ball with his right leg. UK entered the game ranked sixth nationally in goals scored this season with 42.

Although the 49ers outshot UK in the game 19-8, the Cats were only outshot 7-5 in the second half. UNCC only had one shot on goal in the second half. Facusse had three saves Sunday and preserved his 20th career clean sheet and 13th this season.  

Williams, Facusse, Kalil Elmedkhar and Tanner Hummel were named to the All-Tournament team following the win. Williams was named the tournament’s Offensive MVP and Facusse was named the Defensive MVP.

UK will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament because of the win. The NCAA men’s soccer selection show will be tomorrow at 1 p.m Eastern.