Nov. 16, 2012
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – With a strike on goal late in the opening half, and four goals in the second half, the No. 5/6 UCLA Bruins ended the University of Kentucky women’s soccer team’s (14-7-1, 8-5-1 SEC) run in the 2012 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship in the second round, knocking off the Wildcats at the SportsDeck in San Diego, Calif.
“We didn’t want to sit back and see how long we could hang, we wanted to play,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said, who completes his fourth year at the helm of the UK women’s soccer program. “We wanted to present some tactical challenges to them and see if they could solve them, and obviously they did a fantastic job of it. Congratulations to UCLA and we wish them nothing but the best of luck. I will be stunned if they are not one of the teams sitting there at the end."
UCLA (17-2-2, 8-2-1 PAC-12) opened the scoring in the 39th minute when Ally Courtnall got her feet on a loose ball and punched it past Kayla King to give the Bruins the lead. The ball was initially shot in by the Bruins and saved by King, before a slight rebound deflected out of her grasp and found the feet of Courtnall who slid it in back post to the right side. The goal was her fourth of the season.
The two teams went to the locker room at halftime with UCLA leading in most statistical categories, including holding a 13-3 edge in shots, and 4-0 edge in corner kicks. UK struck for three shots in the opening 45, with two of them being on goal.
UK’s best chance to break through in the first half came when freshman Kelli Hubly was slipped a ball down the near side and took a few touches into the box and towards the keeper. The Elk Grove, Ill., keeper launched a shot over the far-post upper 90, just sailing high and wide.
Kentucky opened the half with much more fluidity and pace as Arin Gilliland played a great diagonal ball in over the head of the UCLA defense into the feet of Hubly. Hubly centered in a cross that was batted around and touched multiple times in front of the six, but cleared away by the Bruin defense five minutes into the half.
UCLA increased its lead seven minutes into the second half to 2-0, and then again to 3-0 just seven minutes later. The goals came as just the second time all season that UK has allowed three or more goals to its opponents all season, as only Arkansas breached the Wildcats back line three times back in September.
The season concludes for Kentucky as one of the best in program history, recording a fourth-place Southeastern Conference finish, 14 wins, and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win in eight tries. The Wildcats were selected as one of only 32 host sites for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive season, yet again drawing over 800 fans to the UK Soccer Complex. The Wildcats did all of it with a whopping 15 freshman and 27 underclassmen.
Kentucky finished the season 2-1-1 against teams ranked in the top-15 of the nation, recording wins over No. 12 Louisville, No. 13 Florida and a draw with No. 6 Texas A&M.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished this season,” Lipsitz said. “Building a program goes step-by-step, and we have taken an important step this season. We will continue from here as a benchmark of what we need to do to get better.”
For continuing coverage of UK women’s soccer, log on to UKathletics.com.