Women’s soccer ready to go one step further in 2013 season



By Tom Hurley

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In 2010 UK women’s soccer made the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2007. In 2011 the Cats made it to the made their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2006. In 2012, the Cats secured a first round win in the big dance for the first time in program history. In 2013, the Cats hope to continue the trend of going one better by progressing to the NCAA Tournament third round — at a minimum.

“We want to go farther in the SEC tournament as well,” sophomore forward Kelli Hubbly said after Sunday’s 0-0 tie with Utah. “And just really learn as a team to get better … play together, keep good possession … win together.”

The Elk Grove, Ill., native tabbed six goals and three assists in 2012 on her way to being named in the SEC All-Freshman team along with returning sophomore midfielder Courtney Raetzman.

Another returnee who made a big impact in 2012 is junior defender Arin Gilliland. UK head coach Jon Lipsitz moved Gilliland from defense to attack midway through the season and the West Jessamine High School alumna scored seven goals and seven assists to lead the team in both categories. Her year was rewarded with a First Team All-SEC selection and a pair of call-ups to the USA U23 squad over the summer.

The Cats return nine starters in all from the 2012 side that finished second in the SEC regular season, while a sizeable freshman class sees 12 first-year players on the 2013 roster.

Among them are freshman forwards Jade Klump and Zoe Swift. Klump scored the Cats’ first goal of 2013 in the season opening 3-1 loss at No. 5/6 Wake Forest on Aug. 23, while Swift’s four shots on goal leads the team after starting against both Wake Forest and Utah.

Both senior defender Ashley VanLandingham and sophomore midfielder Jackie Dallaire will miss the season with ACL injuries, while goalkeeper Kayla Price will serve as an undergraduate assistant coach due to injury.

Another familiar face on the Cats bench this season will be Alyssa Telang who becomes a graduate assistant coach after a four-year career at UK. Telang started all but one game she featured in during her playing career and was a co-captain in 2012. Hubly says having Telang as a coach and not as a teammate is “definitely different.”

“She’s a good figure to look up to, so she’s there for support,” Hubly said. “She really knows the game. It’s easier to go to her just because she’s been on the team, she knows what we’re going through.”

Lipsitz leads UK for a fifth straight season. Lipsitz has led the Cats to the SEC Tournament each of the past three seasons and the NCAA Tournament in the last two. Prior to Friday’s game with EKU, Lipsitz is 42-31-9 since taking the reigns at UK.

After losing and tying the first two games of the season, respectively, a frustrated Lipsitz promised changes would be made prior to Friday’s home clash with Eastern Kentucky (0-2).

“I would wait and see my lineup next Friday before I make any comments on where we’re going to be,” he said Sunday. “Because there are going to be some major changes.”

Lipsitz said he “might” move Gilliland to a more advanced role after the Cats record of one goal scored in the first 200 minutes of soccer this season. Whether she returns to the offensive rule she enjoyed at the back-end of last season, or is on the defensive line once more, Gilliland said she has “complete confidence” in the current attacking lineup.

“I’m naturally an attacking player and that’s just my mindset. Sitting back there is a little irritating sometimes but I know that I’m doing my job. Every player does their job in their position and that’s how you’ve got to think of it,” Gilliland said Sunday.

“Even though I’m not up there I know I’m doing something for the team. But, if I do get the chance to go up there I will take full advantage.”

Lipsitz took to Twitter on Thursday ahead of Friday’s home game with EKU, seeming to confirm the Cats will have a different look to the side that opened the year 0-1-1.

“Hard to explain how excited I am for our match tomorrow. Almost feel like my first game all over again with these changes,” he said on his Twitter account, @UKCoachLipsitz.

EKU opened their season with a pair of losses to UNC Asheville and Western Carolina, going down 2-1 and 2-0 respectively. Sunday sees the Cats head north to take on Toledo in a 1 p.m. contest, before returning for a home clash with rival Louisville five days later.

UK versus EKU kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday. Ongoing construction at UK Soccer Complex means entrance is free for all fans for the entirety of the 2013 season.