Women’s soccer vie for SEC tournament



By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel

[email protected]

After knocking off Tennessee and Georgia with a pair of 1-0 road wins this past weekend, UK women’s soccer begins its final home stand of the regular season Friday.

Returning to Lexington after going 2-2 on a four-game road swing, the back-to-back wins put SEC tournament qualification back in the Cats’ hands.

“Every game now starts feeling like a single-elimination tournament,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. “That is what we are building towards, and if we work hard, we will be in that situation soon. We need to understand that on our best day and our worst day, we need to find a way to get it done.”

Freshman forward Kelli Hubly fired the Cats to a 1-0 victory at Tennessee last Friday before sophomore defender Arin Gilliland’s goal and junior goalkeeper Kayla King’s string of saves secured a 1-0 win in Athens, Ga., Sunday.

Wins against South Carolina on Friday and Auburn on Sunday would all but confirm the Cats’ participation in the SEC tournament, which starts Oct. 29 in Orange Beach, Ala.

The Cats enter Friday’s game against South Carolina fifth in the SEC standings, three wins ahead of the 10th and final qualification place.

The Gamecocks travel to Lexington with a 5-7-4 (2-5-3 SEC) record as they look to fight their way back into the postseason race.

“South Carolina is extremely hard to score on,” Lipsitz said. “We have to have great possession and have to find a way to break them out of their shell. It’s going to come down to a couple moments just like all our other SEC games do as well.”

On Sunday UK battles Auburn in the the afternoon sun, with the visitors also looking to stamp their ticket to Orange Beach.

UK goes into the weekend sitting just ahead of Auburn in the standings with a 10-5-1 (5-4-1 SEC) record, compared with the Tigers’ 9-8-0 (5-5-0 SEC) record.

A 2-2 overtime tie with Memphis on Sept. 30 is all that separates the two foes as they look to join Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas A&M on the list of teams qualified for the SEC tournament.

Friday’s game against South Carolina kicks-off at 6:30 p.m. at the UK Soccer Complex, with Sunday’s visit from Auburn getting under way at 2:30 p.m.