Men’s soccer posts shutout, rebounds from opening loss

By James Pennington

Despite opening its season on Friday with a 2-0 loss to Cornell, the UK’s men’s soccer team salvaged its second game of the season by defeating UNC-Asheville 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.

In their season opener, the Cats fought hard with Cornell until the last minute of the game but could not manage as many scoring opportunities as the Big Red. While Cornell fired 15 shots on goal in the game, UK only had five.

UK head coach Ian Collins was adamant about his team proving itself on Sunday.

“After a really disappointing game on Friday, it was important for us to play well,” Collins said. “We weren’t concerned about the result, but we wanted to come out and prove to ourselves that we were capable of playing at a much higher level.”

After a slow first half on Sunday afternoon against the Bulldogs, the Cats hit the ground running in the second half and never looked back. In the 58th minute, sophomore defender Barry Rice headed the ball in the back of the net off a corner kick from junior midfielder Masumi Turnbull.

“I walked up to the corner kick and told myself that I was about to score,” Rice said. “I just lost my man, saw my opportunity and put it in.”

After Rice’s goal, junior forward Aaron Swanson added a pair of goals to seal the Cats’ first victory of the season. His first goal of the match came in the 64th minute when sophomore Mark Halma took control of a loose ball and crossed it to Swanson for the goal.

“It was kind of a scrappy goal,” Swanson said. “But those can be the most important. It just felt good to get it done.”

Swanson scored his second goal of the day in the 74th minute by capitalizing on a rebound off UNC-Asheville goalie Phillip Horner.

Swanson had an opportunity to complete a hat trick in the 90th minute when he broke away from the UNC-Asheville defense at midfield, but his shot was saved by Horner.

“I pulled up way too quick on the breakaway,” Swanson said. “But we got the win, and that’s all I really care about.”

Collins said he was pleased with the progress made by the team and is optimistic for its next match, a Thursday night home meeting with in-state rival U of L.

“We just have to keep moving forward,” Collins said. “We’re expecting a massive crowd on Thursday. We hope the students will turn out en masse for Louisville as they always do.”

The players echoed their coach’s excitement. Immediately after his two-goal performance, Swanson wanted to focus on the Cardinals.

“It’s a huge game,” Swanson said. “Hopefully we can keep it going and string some wins together and do what Kentucky soccer does best.”