No. 3 Cats set to host no. 11 Terrapins in Elite Eight


Junior forward JJ Williams gets ready to fight for possession of the ball during the game against Lipscomb University at the Bell Soccer Complex on Saturday November 24, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeater Lipscomb University 2-1. Photo by Olivia Beach | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

A single win separates the UK men’s soccer team from a trip to college soccer’s biggest stage.

The no. 3 seed Cats (19-1-1, 7-1 C-USA) will face off against the no. 11 seed University of Maryland Terrapins (10-6-4, 4-4-0 B1G) in the Elite Eight tonight at The Bell at 6 p.m. with a trip to the College Cup in Santa Barbara, CA on the line.

UK will play in its first ever Elite Eight. The Catss undefeated at home (12-0-0) this season and are riding a 10-game win streak – the longest win streak in team history. They have conceded only two goals at home.

Maryland’s 11-seed can appear misleading. The Terps have won six of their last eight matches. Last week, they upset the sixth-seeded Duke Blue Devils on the road, 2-0. 

Given Maryland’s recent track record, Cats’ team-captain J.J Williams said that the Cats “need to respect everybody.”

“We just have to make sure to stay humble,” Williams said. “We didn’t respect Lipscomb last week as much as we should have and the game was a lot closer.”

Williams anchors the Cats’ offense. As the C-USA Player of the Year, MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, and leading scorer for the Cats, Williams has scored 18 goals this season. His nine game winning goals are second-most in the nation.

His teammate Kalil Elmedkhar complements him. Elmedkhar leads the Cats in assists with 10 and has 11 goals. The breakout sophomore has assisted multiple goals for Williams this season and vice versa.

Cats’ goalkeeper Enrique Facusse’s .469 goals against average is the third-best in the nation. He has 14 shutouts on the team – a team record. His fellow back four defenders are led by team captain Tanner Hummel and All-C-USA First Team defender Aimé Mabika.

The Terps, led by 25th year head coach Sasho Cirovski, are playing in their 10th quarterfinal in the last 17 years. This marks their 38th NCAA Tournament appearance. They’ve also won two national titles in the last 15 years.

While UK head coach Johan Cedergren acknowledged that his team is not as history rich, he said that “history is just a point of reference.”

“What we talked about as a staff when we compared the other team to us is, ‘Do we have the other players?’” Cedergren said. “If I’ve got to pick squads, I’d pick mine.”

You can watch the game on SECNetwork+/WatchESPN.