Defense anchors soccer early



By Brandon Thomas

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Offense provides the spark, but defense provides the stability.

Another clean performance was provided by the UK defense Sunday afternoon as the Cats moved to 2-1-1 on the season.

Through four games, the sturdy UK defense has stood strong, allowing only one goal scored against them and holding a statistic of only one goal allowed in the last 411 minutes played. The goal given up by UK was scored in overtime by Loyola Marymount, giving the Cats their first mark in the loss column.

On great teams, defense is the common denominator trending the team through the ups and downs of the season. When other aspects of the game seem to be challenging at times and players begin to struggle, defense is a staple to turn back on.

“We’ve always been a very good defensive team here,” UK head coach Ian Collins said. “We’re usually in the top 25 in the country in goals-against average.”

In the game against Houston Baptist on Sunday the Cats’ offense looked tired and weary from the long game on

Friday night. However, UK held on despite the fatigue. It was able to leave the game and escape another mark in the loss column by relying on the strong defense. The Cats’ defensive pressure Sunday was enough to hold Houston Baptist to only three shot attempts.

As the season continues, the intensity of the games escalate and as teams begin to make efforts towards post-season play, it will be important for the Cats to have an anchor to cling to. This will especially be the case when UK begins to play games within the conference.

A big reason for the success of the UK defense is the play of the freshman goalkeeper Tyler Beadle. In his first four collegiate games Beadle has posted three shutouts and allowed only the one mishap goal in the LMU overtime.

Beadle holds a goals-against average of 0.24, was named Conference USA defensive player of the week last week and has been a sturdy presence between the posts for the Cats.

“He’s playing well and making good decisions,” Collins said. “The defenders in front of him are very confident in him.”

Those defenders are contributing tremendously to the success of the Cats now. Senior leadership mixed with some new faces are helping Beadle in the defensive effort. The Cats played multiple freshmen in the game against Houston Baptist on the defensive side of the pitch.

In the two wins on the season, the Cats only scored one goal in each game but were able to hang on for the wins because of the defense. Beadle, combined with a strong midfield and solid back third defensive efforts, has given the Cats success.

“We want to shut the other team out every game,” Beadle said.

The season gets tougher as you get deeper into the schedule and teams become more and more desperate as the year goes on and they are all lobbying for their chances at post season play.

Teams need an anchor, something reliable to fall back on. Something to provide stability to the team. The Cats have that with their defense.