Wildcats best Coastal Carolina 3-1 in first round of C-USA Tournament


Kentucky Wildcats forward Marcel Meinzer (8) shoots the ball during the University of Kentucky vs. Florida Atlantic men’s soccer match on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Amanda Braman | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky men’s soccer defeated Coastal Carolina 3-1 in the first round of the Conference-USA tournament. The win also served as a revenge match for Kentucky, having reached a 0-0 draw with the Chanticleers in their first game of the season.

The Wildcats outshot Coastal 14-10 in attempts, and 7-2 in shots on target. Kentucky goalie Jan Hoffelner recorded one save in the match.

Eythor Bjorgolfsson tied Luke Andrews as Kentucky’s leading scorer of the season with his second half goal.

Kentucky entered the matchup after beating FAU 3-0 in their regular season finale at home. Three different Wildcats scored in the match, propelling Kentucky to their most dominant shutout win since late August against Wright State.

UK wasted no time early on, with Lucca Rodriguez finding the back of the net off an assist by Mason Visconti during the 2’ of the game. 

The Wildcats didn’t ease up any on Coastal after the early goal, continuing to fight with two more Cats taking shots, Nick Gutmann’s shot needing to be saved by Coastal goalie Leon Schmidt. 

Kentucky’s persistence was rewarded in the 25’ when Luis Grassow got another one past Schmidt off an assist by Robert Screen. The goal marked just the third time Kentucky has taken a 2-0 lead in the first half of play this season.

Entering the half, Kentucky led in shots 6-1, having dominated the Chanticleers on defense. Both teams earned one card in the half, with Rodrigues being shown yellow in the final minute of the first half. 

The second half started without a shot on target for the first 15 minutes of play. That streak was broken by Kentucky’s Brock Lindow when his shot was saved by Schmidt in the 62’.

Coastal refused to back down despite the deficit, with Alvaro Garcia-Pasqual getting a ball past Hoffelner to put the Chanticleers on the board in the 67’. He was assisted by Marcelo Lage and Ethan Hackenberg on the scoring play.

The Chanticleers fought hard, trying desperately for an equalizer goal, but a costly mistake gave Bjorgolfsson a fast break opportunity one-on-one with Schmidt. Ultimately, the attack was too much for Schmidt to handle as Bjorgolfsson hit the dagger for Kentucky in the 87’ to go up 3-1.

The goal would go down as the last shot of the match, as time soon ran out with Kentucky on top. Kentucky advances in the tournament to face No. 1 seeded FIU this Friday, Nov. 12. 

Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. E.T and will air on ESPN+.