Men’s soccer looks to recover after losing core pieces


Freshman forward Connor Probert scores the team’s only goal of the match agains Dartmouth on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. The match was tied 1-1. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chase Campbell

Last season was one of the best ever for the UK men’s soccer team, as they finished ranked a hair outside the Top 25 at No. 26. They hosted the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a loss to Creighton, and were extremely competitive in the race for the Conference-USA regular season crown.

Their defense was also one of the best in the nation, only allowing four goals in their 11 regular season home games.

Of course, that was when the team was led by elite defender Jordan Wilson, conference assist leader Charlie Reymann and team scoring leader Napo Matsoso. Those three core pieces of the Cats’ game plan have since graduated, and it’s up to the players they left behind to keep Kentucky competitive.

During the UK soccer Fan Day, veteran defender Tanner Hummel outlined how the Cats are approaching this season.

“The people that were behind them were just equally as good,” Hummel said. “We changed our formation, we’re playing a 3-4-3 now, not the four in the back.”

Previously, the Cats had Wilson and Reymann accompanied by two other defenders, something they’re amending this season after struggling to score last year.

“I think we have the potential to be better than we were last year,” Hummel added. “There’s good players, good competition, and every single day in practice is pretty competitive, everybody’s fighting for a spot.”

So who gets to be the new face of the Cats? Sophomore midfielder Connor Probert believes he’ll be stepping into the scoring role that Matsoso left behind.

“I think with the absence of Napo, I’ll have to step into his shoes,” Probert said. “I’m hoping for a big year personally and I think, with what the team can offer, and what I can offer personally, we’ll be going somewhere really special this year.”

Last season, Probert contributed three goals and three assists, the same season stat line as fellow sophomore JJ Williams. Both players will have a larger role thrust upon them, as the only two to score more points than them throughout the season were Reymann and Matsoso.

With the beginning of the season underway, time will soon tell if the team can hold together without their three most dominant forces from last year on the field.