Cats claim C-USA men’s soccer regular season title at home


Jason Reyes (9) celebrates with teammates J.J. Williams (7) and Bailey Rouse (18) after scoring his seventh goal of the season to give Kentucky a 2-0 lead early in the first half of Kentucky’s game against Old Dominion at The Bell in Lexington, Ky. on Nov. 2, 2018. Photo by Olivia Beach

Mohammad Ahmad

Fireworks and endless joy flooded The Bell Friday night.

That was the scene as Kentucky fans and players celebrated the No. 3 ranked Kentucky Wildcats’ claiming the C-USA men’s soccer regular season championship for the first time since 2015. They earned the crown following a 3-0 win over the No. 24 ranked Old Dominion Monarchs.

Early goals from Kalil Elmedkhar and Jason Reyes in the first eight minutes of the game buried the Monarchs in an early hole. Bailey Rouse helped seal the deal with his own goal in the early second half. 

UK finishes the season with an undefeated home record for the first time since 2016. This win gives UK a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina, as well.

The Cats will be the one seed.

Just 30 seconds into the game, the Cats showed the ecstatic crowd of 1,813 people at The Bell how badly they wanted the regular season crown. Reyes got the ball and passed it off to Elmedkhar. Elmedkhar, who had a fairly open look, took a step back before shooting the ball into the net for his eighth goal this season. 

Seven minutes later, Reyes received a give-and-go pass from Nicolai Fremstad and J.J. Williams and ran down the right side of the pitch. He stopped near the right corner of the outer box and took a wide shot that went into the upper-left netting of the goal for his seventh goal this year. 

He continues to lead all UK freshmen in goals this season.

“Scoring that early really kills the other team’s confidence,” Elmedkhar said.

Prior to the 30th minute mark in the first half, both teams’ aggressions boiled over. Some hard fouls led to a minor scuffle between both teams. Old Dominion was issued a foul, but no cards were issued to either team. 

Rouse put the icing on the cake for UK in the 49th minute. Rouse received a pass similar to the give-and-go pass in the eighth minute. Rouse created enough separation before his crowning stroke gave him his first-ever goal as a Wildcat. 

UK is 7-0 this season when the Cats score three or more goals in a game. They outshot the Monarchs 16-6 Friday night.

UK also had four fouls in the game, which is the second-fewest foul total they’ve had in a game this year. 

UK’s second-best shutout percentage in the nation of 75 percent helped provide Cats’ goalkeeper Enrique Facusse with his nation-leading 12th shutout in 17 games this season.

While senior night was bittersweet for UK’s Tanner Hummel, he said that he’s focused on the future. 

“This is just the beginning,” Hummel said.

The 15-1-1 (7-1 C-USA) Cats will look to continue their six-game win streak in the C-USA’s biggest stage next week, Friday, Nov. 9. Their opponent and playing time are to be determined.