Men’s soccer pulls ahead to 3-1 win over ETSU



By Tom Hurley

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The first half was a scrappy affair as both teams battled to get the upper hand at the sun-soaked UK Soccer Complex.

Things failed to settle down until the 20th minute when East Tennessee had a strong penalty appeal turned down. Franck Doumbe was brought down in the box by UK senior Jacob Kemper, but the referee waved play on.

ETSU looked to build on the momentum and appeared to take the upper hand, but it was the home side that struck first.

A finesse move finished off by freshman Gabriel Conelian propelled the Cats into a 1-0 lead on 36 minutes.

Freshman Bryan Celis knocked the ball into Tyler Riggs on the edge of the area; the junior deftly one-timed the ball into the feet of Conelian, who took his time before firing the ball past ETSU goalkeeper Ryan Coulter.

“It was nice to get a win at home against a good opponent,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said.

UK went into the break with its 1-0 lead intact, but shortly after the break ETSU had another strong penalty appeal, which this time saw the referee point to the spot.

Junior Steven Perinovic cut ETSU’s Alesi Osorio down from behind as the striker looked set to pull the trigger on freshman Jack Van Arsdale’s goal.

Perinovic saw a yellow card for his two-footed lunge as Osorio limped off the field hurt.

ETSU forward David Geno stepped up and, after a short run-up, drove the ball down the middle past the diving Van Arsdale to tie the game.

ETSU’s Henrique Novaes moments later scuffed over after a nice passing move, missing the chance to put the visitors ahead.

UK had Van Arsdale to thank for not going 2-1 down in the 66th minute after the freshman stopped a bullet header from Osorio at point-blank range.

“Jack’s been coming up huge. He’s playing out of his mind for us right now,” Perinovic said post-game. “He’s been keeping us in a lot of games.”

Thanks to a string of Van Arsdale saves, it was the Cats who would go on to take the lead in the 74th minute, with Perinovic making amends for conceding the earlier penalty kick.

Senior Charley Pettys floated a free-kick from near the left corner flag into the back-post, and it was Perinovic who rose highest to nod UK in front.

“It was nice to get one especially after (giving away the penalty),” Perinovic said.

The lead would be extended in the 84th minute after ETSU’s Maximilian Muemken handled another Pettys free-kick as it bounced around the goalmouth.

Pettys came forward to place the ball on the spot before sending the keeper the wrong way to give UK a 3-1 advantage.

Simon Schroettle’s late red card all but ended ETSU’s hopes of a comeback as the Cats comfortably held on for the 3-1 win.

Cedergren was happy with the way his team responded after letting its lead slip.

“Today there was just no backing down. OK they scored, OK fine, we’ll score another one,” he said.

“They know that they can do so much better, and they know that they can play with anyone in the country.”

The coach was also pleased with the input of Pettys’ contribution.

“Charlie wants to play at the next level,” Cedergen said. “He’s got an engine where he just never seems to stop running.”

The victory moved UK to 3-4 overall on the season ahead of its next game, on the road against Evansville on Saturday.