Win and in for women’s soccer



By Brandon Thomas

As the regular season winds down on the UK women’s soccer team, there is one last game and one last opportunity for UK to make some noise in the SEC East and put themselves into the SEC tournament.

UK (9-7-2, 3-5-2 SEC) plays Vanderbilt in the regular season finale Friday in a win-and-in situation.

While UK is currently last in the SEC East, they are just one game behind the SEC West leader. A win allows UK to advance to the SEC Tournament. A loss or a tie, and the season is over.

“If we win then we’re in (the SEC tournament),” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said.  “We’re in a single elimination tournament as far as we know at this point and we’re waiting on confirmation from the SEC.”

UK helped itself Sunday with a 5-1 victory over Mississippi State. The five goals were the most the Cats have scored in two years under Lipsitz.

UK will be looking to replicate that offensive production in an all-or-nothing conclusion to the season. Lipsitz believes that the Cats match up well with Vandy and stand a good chance of winning the game on Friday night.

“We both play the same style and the same shape,” said coach Lipsitz.  “We match up very well with them, and with it being senior night, it will help us.  It will come down to who performs best in the pressure situations.”

To get within range of the postseason, UK had to overcome some big obstacles. The Cats lost three players to season-ending injuries this year that were tremendously costly to the team.  Then the Cats lost Kelsey Hunyadi for half of the SEC season with an injury.

“We were without both of our captains at one point in time,” said head coach Jon Lipsitz.  “It put our team in a very difficult position to have to find new leaders in the middle of the season.”

The team was forced to step up and create new leaders in the middle of adversity.  Despite playing in a difficult league and playing difficult opponents night in and night out, the Cats stepped up and managed to survive the brutal schedule.

“It was really difficult to lose our leaders in the middle of the season like that,” said coach Lipsitz.  “Our team could’ve complained, but they didn’t.  They decided to step up and fight through the adversity and it helped new leaders develop.”

Now, after fighting through all the adversity and struggles of the season, the Cats have a game Friday night to decide whether they make it into the SEC tournament or not.  It has all come down to this; the entire season is riding on this one game.

The comfort of the UK Soccer Complex should give the Cats a little assistance as they battle the Commodores for a chance to get into the tournament.

“It’s always nice to be at home,” said coach Lipsitz. “We’re comfortable at home, it’s exciting at home and we have amazing fans.”

Competition should be high and so should the anticipation.  As the players take the field, especially the seniors, knowing that if they win they get to continue to play this season, everyone will be leaving it all out on the field.

“We all know if we win we continue playing and if we lose we go home,” said Lipsitz.  “Everyone will be playing their hearts out.”