Soccer’s Bluegrass Battle ends in draw

Mohammad Ahmad

In a matchup that featured two zealous, enterprising and driven soccer teams, the Battle of the Bluegrass between the Louisville Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats ended in a tie.

As both teams came into Lynn Stadium Tuesday with a 3-0-0 record, this matchup proved to be more than just an in-state rivalry. Both teams came into this game looking to display themselves as the cream of the crop within their respective conferences.

Once the game was underway, neither team wasted any time trying to make statements. In the 14th minute, Louisville forward Mohamed Thiaw put the Cards up 1-0. After the Lexington native scored for the Cards, his hometown university wasted no time retaliating.

Exactly one minute later, UK sophomore midfielder Connor Probert brought his team back up with a goal to even up the match at 1-1. Probert scored his first goal on the year as he directly kicked a free kick 25 yards away from the goal near the left side of the net.         

In the 28th minute, the Cats’ fortunes bettered even further after a wily goal by junior midfielder Mikkel Pedersen. Pedersen’s score was his first on the year as the ball finished on far side of the right post off of an assist from Tanner Hummel.

Although it seemed like Kentucky was in the driver’s seat, the Cardinals came right back out and reminded the 19th ranked Cats why they were ranked No. 8 in the nation. After some blank action for about 10 minutes, the Louisville crowd exploded after sophomore midfielder Cody Cochran evened up the game 2-2 for the Cards. Cochran scored on a free kick that was deflected by Kentucky, finishing in the inside right.

After halftime passed, both teams ferociously jabbed at each other back and forth in an attempt to steal bragging rights. Tanner Hummel nearly scored for Kentucky in the 47th minute as he volleyed high, and the Cardinals missed a free kick from 26 yards away a minute later.

Defensively, the Wildcats stood their ground as they tried holding back Louisville from making anything happen. This was due in part to a tackle by senior midfielder Landon Souder in the box, along with four saves by C-USA defensive player of the week Enrique Facusse.

The latter part of the second half featured both teams just barely missing scoring chances to capitalize on. Going into the first overtime, the only real action was a free kick attempt by the Cats. Kentucky’s JJ Williams missed a possible goal in the second overtime and thus this culminated in the first tie between the Cards and Cats since Aug. 30, 2006.

As both teams are 3-0-1, the Kentucky Wildcats can breathe a sigh of relief now that they are headed back home to Lexington. They will take on the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers at The Bell at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.