Cats overcome sloppy half, burst past overmatched Kent

After a slow first half for the Cats, freshman defender Tim Crone scored his second goal of the season and led UK to a 1-1 tie in double overtime yesterday afternoon against Cleveland State.

The Cats (1-2-1) had a tough time creating scoring opportunities in the first half. When they created opportunities in the second half and in both overtime sessions, they had difficulty converting them into goals against Cleveland State’s defense.

“We came out way too slow,” Crone said. “We need to do much better.”

The Vikings (2-1-1) scored the game’s first goal in the 23rd minute when senior midfielder Roshard Gilbert took advantage of a needle-threading pass deep in the box from freshman midfielder Marco DiFranco.

After halftime, the Cats came out looking to tie the game. In the 54th minute, it appeared as if they had done so on a header from sophomore forward Mark Halma.

With Viking goalkeeper Nick Harpel on the ground and an open net in front of him, Halma headed the ball towards the goal.

The ball glanced off the bottom of the crossbar and bounced down on the goal line. Although it appeared that the ball may have crossed the goal line, the linesman never signaled for a goal despite an abbreviated Cats celebration.

Cleveland State’s defense managed to clear the ball, and play continued.

“We should be putting teams away with opportunities like that,” Crone said.

UK finally capitalized on one of its many opportunities when Crone netted the equalizer in the 68th minute. Freshman midfielder Jirijoonas Kanth crossed the ball from the left side of the field and Crone headed the ball past Harpel.

“He took two touches and managed to get it across,” Crone said. “I just kind of flicked it in past the keeper.”

The Cats had one more big opportunity to break the tie, but they missed by a matter of inches. In the 78th minute, Halma crossed a ball in front of the net towards Crone, who was sprinting towards the goal.

Crone dove in an attempt to drive the ball on goal with a header but arrived barely too late as the ball flew by.

Although they escaped Sunday’s poor performance with a tie, the Cats were hoping to notch a win after losing 4-2 to Louisville on Thursday.

“We aren’t satisfied at all with the result,” Crone said. “This wasn’t what we wanted at all.”

After opening its season with four straight home games, UK will take its first road trip of the year to play a set of games in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the UM Invitational. The Cats will take on the University of Michigan on Friday and will face Michigan State University on Sunday.

After only one win in their first four games of the season, there was no question in Crone’s mind what the Cats need to do over the weekend.

“We need two wins, for sure,” Crone said. “We’re going to work hard in practice this week, make a turn and hopefully get some wins under our belt.”