Women’s soccer boasts one of best classes



By Boyd Hayes

UK head coach Jon Lipsitz’s women’s soccer team touts one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, an intense schedule and the possibility of another NCAA Tournament berth in 2012.

Lipsitz took the Cats to the NCAA Tournament in for the first time since 2006 during his third season as coach last year.

Despite having home-field advantage, UK ended its season with a penalty-shootout loss to Washington State after playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation.

The loss capped a season that marked strong growth for the program and gave UK fans a lot to look forward to.

UK outscored its opponents 35 to 26 on the season. Play from freshman Arin Gilliland and senior Kelsey Hunyadi garnered All-SEC tags for both players and a stellar recruiting class for the next season was already starting to shape up. Hunyadi has graduated, but Gilliland is among nine returning starters.

This year’s recruiting class, made up of 15 newcomers, includes  former U-14, U-15, U-17 and U-18 Women’s National squad members and the 2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America  All-America Scholar Athlete of the Year, Haleigh Hoff.

UK looks to succeed against a tough schedule, including games against nine teams in the final 2011 RPI top 50.

Seven of the Cats’ 11 SEC games will be played at the UK Soccer Complex, which sports a new video scoreboard.

The Cats will host South Carolina on Oct. 19, a game that will be televised on Fox Sports South. Another big game this season will be against in-state rival Louisville, which is ranked No. 14 on TopDrawerSoccer.com, at the Cardinal Classic on Sept. 7. The Cats beat the Cardinals in Lexington last season, 2-0. The head coach insists that his team doesn’t focus on predictions, long-term goals and rankings but  is interested in “excellence every day.”

“For us, excellence is getting better every single day,” Lipsitz said.  “It’s being our best every single day.”

Though he doesn’t talk about winning and losing, he does find it important to talk about the development of the program.

“If we follow the process of getting better every day, of being our best and being excellent every day, in the end we will achieve more than we did last year,” Lipsitz said.