Crone’s 2 goals lead historic upset

The odds were stacked against the Cats emerging with a victory when the UK men’s soccer team faced off against Southern Methodist University on Saturday. Not only did SMU enter the match as the nation’s top-ranked team, but the Mustangs had won all five previous meetings with UK.

But the Cats (7-8-2, 5-2 Conference USA) rode two second-half goals from reserve freshman forward Tim Crone to pull off a dramatic 2-1 upset against No. 1 SMU on Senior Night at the UK Soccer Complex.

The win marked the first time the men’s soccer team had beaten a No. 1-ranked team in its 17-year history.

“On Senior Night, we wanted to send out our guys on a high note,” Crone said. “We had to be on our best game, and the defense held it together at the end.”

The Mustangs (11-3-2, 6-1-1 C-USA) galloped out of the starting gates and scored the game’s first goal in the sixth minute when junior forward Scott Geppert drilled a ball from about 30 yards out that curled around UK sophomore goalkeeper Dan Williams.

UK head coach Ian Collins commended the team for continuing to battle despite yielding the early goal to such a formidable opponent.

“After we gave up that first goal, we could have folded,” Collins said. “We persevered and showed we were the better team.”

Williams anchored the Cats’ comeback for the rest of the game. In the remaining 39 minutes of the first half, Williams recorded five saves and provided the Cats with the spark they needed to shift the momentum in their favor.

“That’s why I’m in the game: to come up with saves and help the team,” Williams said.

Williams and the UK defense held SMU scoreless the rest of the way. Crone checked in the game at the 59-minute mark and provided the Cats with instant offense.

The freshman netted his first goal with a diving header on a cross by freshman midfielder C.J. Tappel just 23 seconds after entering the contest. The goal knotted the score 1-1.

“Crone is a scrappy guy,” Collins said. “He’s a scrappy, feisty guy that knows exactly how to finish.”

The goal brought the crowd of 821 to its feet and seemingly shifted the momentum in the home team’s favor. Once the Cats had pulled even with the Mustangs, it took only five minutes for them to nab the lead.

In the 65th minute, junior midfielder Masumi Turnbull sent a cross to Crone in the penalty box, who headed a ball that glanced off the bottom of the crossbar and into the goal. The score gave the Cats a 2-1 lead and marked Crone’s first career game-winner.

“I caught the defense off-guard,” Crone said. “I was in place, and the cross was perfect. I didn’t even have to move.”

Four UK seniors, forward Aaron Swanson, midfielders Andrew Alexander and Adam Midkiff, and defender Nathan Marks, said their competitive goodbyes to the UK Soccer Complex during Senior Night celebrations Saturday. With his two goals, Crone ensured that their Senior Day was a memorable one.

“As a substitute player, I just tried to come in and boost the team,” Crone said. “I just wanted to help.”