LEXINGTON, Ky. - The UK women's soccer team (10-7-2, 4-5-2 SEC) celebrated Senior Night and earned a bid to the SEC Tournament at the same time with a 6-1 win over Vanderbilt (8-9-2, 4-5-2) Friday night.
The six goals were the most by Kentucky in an SEC match since netting seven in a 7-1 win against Alabama in 2001.
"We have trained really well all week and we felt something special all week" said UK head coach Jon Lipsitz. "Our attack has been coming together all year, and tonight it was great. All of our players that are dynamic on the attack were great tonight.
"I don't know if it's fitting or not that we got in the tournament with a six-goal performance, but it certainly feels good. Everyone knows that I am an offensive-minded coach. We work on defending, we work on ball control, and tonight it all came together.
"I think one of the things you saw today, was that we had a lot of fun. It wasn't just because we scored so many goals, it was the way we scored them. Those were some fun, dynamic attacks and we talked to them about being a risk-taker out there. We told them that this is it, if we lose, our season is over. We wanted to find out if we were going to take the risk, or were we going to get tight."
Natalie Horner led all scorers with six points on two goals and two assists. She scored the game's opening goal in the 10th minute off a Kentucky set piece. Alyssa Telang took the corner kick and placed a perfect ball in front of the goal where Horner headed it in for a 1-0 UK lead.
The Commodores came right back seven minutes later on Nicole Adams' header off a Molly Kinsella corner kick, tying the game 1-1.
UK didn't blink, reclaiming the lead nearly two minutes later on Caitlin Landis' seventh goal of the season. Horner sent a ball on the ground through the Commodore defense to Landis who connected on a shot from 15 yards out in the right side of the box.
Laura Novikoff got in on the scoring in the 22nd minute off an assist from Horner, her second of the night. Horner attempted a shot that was saved by Vanderbilt keeper Rachel Bachtel, but Novikoff was there for the rebound and put back making it a 3-1 Kentucky lead.
Kelsey Hunyadi joined in at the 38-minute mark netting her team leading eighth goal of the season. She controlled the ball and dribbled unchecked through the Vanderbilt defense, firing a shot from 20 yards out spotting the Cats a 4-1 lead heading into halftime.
Kentucky kept the pressure applied in the 61st minute, making it a 5-1 match on Horner's second goal of the night. Hunyadi sent a pass through the Vanderbilt defense to Horner who put a shot to the left of Bachtel just inside the left post.
Telang closed out the scoring with a header off a perfect cross from Hunyadi. It was Telang's second goal of her career.
Not to be lost in the offensive onslaught was Sydney Hiance's second save on a penalty kick in as many matches. In the 66th minute, the Wildcats were called for a foul in the box resulting in a penalty kick for the Commodores. CJ Rhoades took the shot for the Commodores, but Hiance dove to her right, knocking the ball away and over the end line.
Kentucky finished with a season high 29 shots, 15 of which were on goal, also a team high this season. In addition to her game high seven points, Horner paced the UK offense taking a team high seven shots. Hunyadi and Landis each chipped in five shots, while Novikoff and Natalie Starr each attempted three shots each. Taylor Parker also had a couple shots rounding out all the multi-shot efforts for the Cats.
The Wildcats advance to the SEC Tournament for the 15th time in program history. UK will be the seventh seed and will take on second seeded South Carolina in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at Orange Beach, Ala. Kickoff is set for noon CT.
UK Post Match Notes
• UK advances to their 15th SEC Tournament.
• The Wildcats record their 11th 10-win season in program history and first since 2007.
• UK has taken 74 shots in its last three matches and has scored 11 goals in the last two.
• Natalie Horner has nine points in her last two matches. She's scored three goals and record three assists.
• Horner has seven assists on the season, the most by a Wildcat since Elizabeth Ramsey in 2003.
• The Kentucky-Vanderbilt series now stands at 12-12. UK has won four of the last five and nine of the last 11 against the Commodores.