UK men’s soccer gets first-ever home tournament win


Sophomore Kalil Elmedkhar celebrating after scoring a goal. University of Kentucky men’s soccer team played University of Portland in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Wendell and Vickie Soccer Complex on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

The No. 3-seed UK men’s soccer team (18-1-1, 7-1 C-USA) won its first-ever NCAA Tournament home match and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in team history following a 4-0 win over the no. 21 ranked University of Portland Pilots (12-4-3, 3-3-1 WCC) Sunday evening at The Bell.

Kalil Elmedkhar made the initial difference for UK in the first half with his goal in the 40th minute. Elmedkhar helped put the game away in the 59th minute as well, with his second goal of the game and 11th this season.

Forward JJ Williams complemented Elmedkhar’s efforts with a goal right out of the gate in the second half, in the 46th minute. He added another goal to his stat-line in the 71st minute to extend his team record of most goals in a season with 18.

The Cats are now riding a nine-game win streak dating back to Oct. 13th, extending the team record for most wins in a season. They are still undefeated at The Bell this year.

UK is 9-0 this year when it scores three or more goals in a game, and are now 5-0 when facing a Top 25 team.

Both teams starting playing physically with one another through multiple takedowns and falls in the first half. Frustration boiled over with a yellow card against Portland’s Gio Magana-Rivera in the 38th minute.

Elmedkhar ended the scoreless drought just two minutes later. Sam Stockton took the ball on a Cats’ takeaway and moved it over to Jason Reyes, who slotted the ball over to Elmedkhar. Elmedkhar finished the ball to draw first blood.

Coming out of the gate after halftime, UK tried to start putting the game away. Just over a minute into the second half, Williams won the ball from Portland and dribbled the ball into the goal to exploit Pilots’ goalkeeper Keenan Weeks.

Last weekend against UNC Charlotte in the C-USA Championship game, Williams scored his go-ahead goal in the 46th minute as well.

Elmedkhar scored once more 10 minutes later when he received a give-and-go ball from Williams and finished the score. Williams put the game away for the Cats in the 67th after Nicolai Fremstad and Stockton gave him the ball and Williams put the ball into the net.

Portland couldn’t do much to get back into the game. They tacked on three more yellow cards in the second half.

Cats’ goalkeeper Enrique Facusse helped UK preserve the win with his 14th clean sheet this season, extending his team record for most shutouts this season. His fellow back four defenders limited the Pilots to just four shots on goal.

The Cats outshot Portland 19-5 in the game and 10-1 in the first half. They forced Weeks to make seven saves in the game. UK has had 15 or more shots in its last four matches.

UK will face either Lipscomb University or the University of Central Florida in the Sweet 16 on a date to be announced.