First-half struggles doom Cats in 2-1 loss to Evansville


Senior forward Tyler Riggs shoots ball against Evansville in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday, October 8, 2013. Photo by Caleb Gregg

By Boyd C.M. Hayes | Assistant Sports Editor

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UK men’s soccer has produced more shots and a higher rate of possession in the second halves of the majority of games this season.

But, like Tuesday, the Cats’ first-half deficits have often proven too large to overcome.

Less than a week after an overtime victory against Old Dominion University, UK (3-6-0, 1-1-0 C-USA) suffered a 2-1 defeat against Evansville University (7-3-1, 0-1-0 MVC) on Tuesday at the UK Soccer Complex.

A goal early in the second half from UK senior forward Tyler Riggs and a 26-11 shot advantage for the Cats couldn’t counter two first-half Evansville goals.

“For us to come out that way in the first half just couldn’t be any more disappointing,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. “I have to take ultimate responsibility for that.”

UK conceded a goal in the ninth minute as Evansville freshman midfielder Landon Souder fired in a shot on a short rebound after two saves from UK sophomore goalkeeper Callum Irving.

The Purple Aces scored another first-half goal as sophomore forward Nate Opperman hammered a shot into the upper right-hand corner of the goal from about 30 yards out in the 22nd minute.

Though UK earned multiple scoring opportunities late in the half, the Cats were unable to score before halftime.

“There were some truths told in the locker room at halftime, and the guys came out fired up because they knew they were in a hole,” Cedergren said.

The Cats came out firing in the second half, with Riggs drilling a shot into the back of the net exactly one minute after play resumed. Junior forward Justin Laird was credited with the assist.

Though UK maintained possession for the duration of the second half, the Cats would not score a second goal.

“It doesn’t matter what you do in the second half,” Cedergren said. “Yes, we scored a goal, we had a couple of chances, took lots of shots, but most of them were not on target, and we were already down 2-0, so in the end, it doesn’t matter.”

In the second half, the Cats took 18 shots; Evansville took three. UK also held an 8-4 corner-kick advantage on the night.

The Cats return to conference play against the University of South Carolina at 1 p.m on Sunday at the UK Soccer Complex. ­­­