Kentucky earns first win in Sun Belt Conference; defeats Georgia State 5-1 in Atlanta


David Falade

Kentucky Wildcats midfielder Enzo Mauriz (8) makes a pass during the Kentucky vs. Seattle mens soccer match on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 1-0. Photo by David Falade | Staff

Ali Cetinok, Staff Writer

No. 5 Kentucky mens soccer (6-0-2) earned its first ever Sun Belt Conference victory on Saturday, defeating Georgia State (6-1-1) 5-1 in Atlanta.

Despite the Cats having only conceded six goals all season entering the match, Georgia State stunned UK goalkeeper Casper Mols, scoring within the first 30 seconds of play when Mario Arrocha’s shot from 25 yards out flew into the top corner of the goal to give the home squad an early 1-0 lead.

After the strong start from the Panthers, Kentucky wasted little time to respond with a goal of its own in the 4’ as Casper Grening cut in from the left wing to finish from the top of the box and tie the score at 1-1.

After the equalizer the first half was all Kentucky as the Cats putting forth consistent attacks, outshooting GSU 9-3 before halftime.

Despite the shot differential, the score would remain tied at the half with just the two goals from the first five minutes of play.

Shortly into the second half Kentucky would be awarded a penalty in the 58’ after Enzo Mauriz was brought down, but the Cats were unable to take advantage after Robert Screen’s penalty kick was saved by GSU’s Gunther Rankenburg, who sent the ball over the goal.

Not lingering on the missed penalty, Kentucky eventually took the lead 10 minutes later in the 68’ when Mauriz sent the ball into the net to make the score 2-1.

Kentucky would score again in the 77’ after a cross from Mauriz was deflected into the path of Gutmann, who promptly fired the ball home to extend the Wildcat lead to two goals.

Kentucky kept its foot on the gas, scoring again, this time courtesy of Eythor Bjorgolfsson and an assist from Mauriz, with less than 10 minutes left to play.

Seemingly unsatisfied with just the four goals, Kentucky scored once again with less than 30 seconds left to play as Justin Scharff was served in a cross from Brennan Creek, sending the ball past Rankenburg and into the goal.

Despite conceding early, Kentucky earned itself a statement victory in the Sun Belt, the first victory for Kentucky in the conference after joining from Conference USA in the offseason.

Kentucky will have a chance to earn a second conference victory on Saturday, Oct. 1, traveling to Harrisonburg, Virginia to take on James Madison.

Kickoff against James Madison is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST and will stream on ESPN+.