Cats host Louisville Friday


Junior defender Arin Gilliland clears the ball against Utah at UK Soccer Complex on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Photo by Tom Hurley

By Kevin Erpenbeck

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As the UK women’s soccer team gears up to face the University of Louisville at home on Friday, UK head coach Jon Lipsitz looks for his third consecutive win against the Cardinals.

“This is always a very exciting week for us,” Lipsitz said. “It’s a great rivalry, and we have a great respect for their program. You just know it’s going to be a tremendous game, as it has been every single year I’ve been here.”

The Cats go into Friday’s game undefeated in their past three matches.

After tying the University of Utah 0-0 on Aug. 25, UK earned a 7-0 victory over Eastern Kentucky University on Aug. 30, and defeated the University of Toledo on the road, 2-1.

After the Utah match, Lipsitz make five changes in his starting offensive lineup.

“Somehow, we all felt like it was a crisis after we tied Utah at home,” Lipsitz said. “Good for us. It’s good for the players to feel an urgency like that.”

Lipsitz said he was excited about the way the team attacked.

“But I also think we’re going to be tested in new ways we haven’t been yet, when we play Louisville,” he said.

One of the players that has benefited greatly from the team’s change is freshman forward Zoe Swift, who has had four goals since the Utah match, including a hat-trick against EKU.

The young forward is one of 13 freshmen on the team this year. while the Cats only start four upperclassmen.

One of those upperclassmen is senior goalkeeper Kayla King, who said she sees the confidence the young players have.

“With the coaching changes and how he’s moved certain players around us, that confidence will continue to grow,” King said. “If we want to get into the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament this year, that confidence has to continue. We have to continue to score goals.”

It will also be another showdown with King’s hometown school, as the Louisville native looks to continue her success against the Cardinals.

The Cats defeated Louisville 2-0 last year during the Cardinals’ home opener, with King recording a career-high of six saves, including a lead-protecting penalty save.

Three players on UK’s roster grew up in Louisville, including King. Lipsitz thinks the connection adds to the rivalry even more.

“I think it gives a little extra because it means something to these players who grew up with it,” Lipsitz said. “Kayla is a tremendous example, as this game means the world to her. But it doesn’t matter where she’s from because she bleeds blue. It’s special, and we’d be lying if we said there wasn’t a little edge on this game.”

The match begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.