UK men’s soccer “skinned” at home by Cincinnati’s physical play


Senior forward Andrew McKelvey attacks the goal during the game against the University of Cincinnati on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Tuesday, the No. 13 UK men’s soccer team battled at home against close-proximity rival Cincinnati. The game was as rough as it was rainy, as a total of 27 fouls, one red card and four yellow cards were issued as the rain poured on the pitch in Lexington.

The Cats owned the first half, drawing fouls from the Bearcats and staying on the attack through the first 45 minutes. They racked up five shots on goal while not allowing Cincinnati to get any. Two-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Week Enrique Facusse could be heard barking orders to the confident Cats as the sun went down and the rain began to pour.

To the spectators of the event, it seemed to be only a matter of time until the Cats took a lead from one of the many shots they were pounding the Bearcats’ net with. However, the lead never came.

Sophomore forward Connor Probert took on the biggest load offensively, notching two of his five shots on goal. He also took the biggest beating, as it seemed to him that most times he touched the ball the Bearcat defenders would play far rougher defense.

“I don’t know if it was a game plan or a tactic, but I seemed to bear the brunt of a few tackles in the game,” Probert said after the match.

Instead of a moment of euphoria for Cats fans as Andrew McKelvey or Probert sailed in one of the many looks they got at the goal, they got nothing. UK would march the ball down the field, take a few of the 19 fouls that were called on the Bearcats during the game, and would get a shot off, only to be saved by Cincinnati’s Pearce Skinner.

“There are a million different ways of skinning a cat,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. “I’m not going to get into criticizing another team’s tactics.”

The second half appeared to be more of the same, but with eight minutes to go in the match, Cincinnati’s Sean Clarke rebounded a shot to score his first goal of the season. The ball was shot initially by Soren Jensen, then rebounded by Clarke after Facusse dove for the initial save.

Without much time left, the Cats’ tone shifted to one of aggression and panic. On their second offensive push before the game ended, a header by sophomore forward JJ Williams appeared as if it may have gone into the goal without hitting the net, but no call was made, so play continued.

Cedergren argued that what would have been the equalizing goal broke the plane to the referees, and his words were enough to earn him the only red card issued in the game.

“I don’t think that’s a red card offense,” Cedergren said. “That’s something that we’re going to appeal, and that’s something we’re going to get in writing.”

The Cats will play their next game Saturday, when they’ll travel to Albuquerque to take on conference opponent New Mexico at 9 p.m.