One and not done: UK’s offense keeps scoring to set up big postseason


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

It was just under eight minutes into Kentucky men’s soccer’s regular season finale against Old Dominion, but they knew the game was already won.

“As soon as you score those two goals, I was like we got this one in the bag,” senior Tanner Hummel said after the game.

By the eight-minute mark, the score was 2-0 in favor of Kentucky, thanks to goals from Kalil Elmedkhar and Jason Reyes. By the time the match was over, the score was 3-0 and Kentucky was the C-USA Regular Season champions.

Elmedkhar’s goal came just 36 seconds into the match, which is the quickest Kentucky has scored all season. Elmedkhar’s goal was assisted by Reyes to setup Elmedkhar’s eighth goal of the season.

“Jason picked it up and I saw a good two v. 1one opportunity so I just stayed wide and stayed patient and played through,” Elmedkhar said. “I was one-on-one with the goalie but I didn’t have a good angle so I just cut back. I thought I actually lost the chance but then I just made up for it with another touch and placed it in.”

Elmedkhar’s goal, along with Reyes’ and Bailey Rouse’s first career goal in the second half, helped Kentucky clinch its second C-USA regular season title since joining the conference in 2005. Kentucky previously won the regular season title in 2015 with a team that was more known for its defense.

This year has been a different story for the Wildcats. Kentucky’s offense has been the driving forced behind many of its victories, including Friday’s win over Old Dominion.

Kentucky ranks at the top of C-USA in goals scored, shots, shots on goal and assists. Kentucky averages over two goals per match, which is something only one other team in the conference can say they do behind Kentucky.

Hummel was part of the 2015 conference winning team and has seen the team develop and grow since the previous title. He said he believes one of the things that sets this team apart compared to 2015 is the confidence Kentucky’s forwards bring every game.

“Since the beginning of the year, our forwards have great confidence scoring, you saw at the very end J.J. (Williams) just smacks it and almost scores and there’s 30 seconds left,” Hummel said. “That’s the kind of confidence we want for our front runners.”

With Kentucky’s forwards and its suffocating defense, Hummel knew the team was a contender for the regular season conference championship as early as the preseason, giving himself a chance to accomplish a goal he’s had since 2015.

“I knew right before I left, I was like ‘I want another one,’ one wasn’t good enough,” Hummel said. “The boys, from the beginning, we were all committed, driven, and we just wanted to do something special here and we got lucky.”

The Wildcats will gear up for next week’s C-USA Tournament with confidence, and the No. 1 seed on their side. 

One of the goals for the team this year was to improve every week of the season. According to head coach Johan Cedergren, they have achieved that goal eight of the 10 weeks of the season. 

If they keep that upward trend going, Cedregren likes his chances with postseason on the horizon.

“I think we are peaking at the right time, I think we’re excited to get into the conference tournament and hopefully the NCAA Tournament,” Cedergren said.