Cats net goal in final minutes, claw Panthers 1-0

By T.J. Walker

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Football isn’t the only game of inches. The UK men’s soccer team missed some opportunities by a matter of inches but those same inches came back to help the Cats (5-6-4, 2-1-2 Conference-USA) seal a must-needed victory over Florida International University (7-7-0, 1-4-0 C-USA).

Sophomore defender Charles Pettys had a seemingly routine play late in the second half. He won the ball from a FIU defender, and knowing it was only a matter of time before the Panther defense collapsed in on him, hoped for the best when passing a through ball to freshman forward Tyler Riggs.

That’s where Riggs made the necessary moves inch for inch, he slipped in front of the FIU defender to be able to control the ball. Riggs then shuffled the ball back and forth trying to find a hole. Riggs placed the right speed with a unique location and buried the ball past FIU goalkeeper Shane Lopez in the 88th minute. It was his fourth goal of the season.

“I just saw the ball coming from the wide and I just went across the player and went forward played it off my chest and played it forward, stopped in front of the goal and put it by (the goal keeper),” Riggs said.

Soccer is a game of inches, too, and those inches are precisely what UK can hang the rest of its season now.

“We definitely needed that win to push us forward, if we didn’t get that I don’t know where we would be,” Riggs said.

The game that the Cats dominated in possession resulted in few opportunities for both teams. While the Panthers didn’t have control of the ball often, they did make the most of when they did. FIU had four shots on goal while UK only had three but UK redshirt freshman goalkeeper Tyler Beadle had his fourth clean sheet of the season.

“He made three point-blank saves that saved us the game and I have nothing but high high praise for him,” UK head coach Ian Collins said.

The Panthers had half of their shots on goal on the same ominous play. FIU had a corner kick that landed in the box and FIU midfielder Diego Tamburus scorched the ball at Beadle. Beadle couldn’t handle the shot and that allowed FIU midfielder Chirs Lamarre to have a shot at goal but UK defenders clogged its path and Lamarre had one more chance at it but sent it sailing above the post.

That was the Panthers only serious chance of scoring vs. the Cats. UK, on the other hand, only had three shots on goal but had three different shots that either hit off the post or on the crossbar, just inches off.

UK was in 7th in C-USA heading into the game vs. FIU. Only the top six teams are allowed to participate in the C-USA tournament and with three remaining games versus teams in the top six, the Cats would have to break their trends of tying and to find wins versus quality opponents.

But thanks to Riggs goal the Cats are currently in 5th place, and while they still have work to do, the Cats will have more of a cushion to tie games. The team believes its next three games will be tough.

“We have probably the toughest three games of the season,” Riggs said.

“I think we are finding are way,” Collins said. “We are unbeaten in our last four games and we are becoming more confident and finding a way to win.”