Kentucky soccer stays unbeaten shuts out South Florida advances to Sweet 16

NCAA official Soccer Balls are lined up on the field (Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
NCAA official Soccer Balls are lined up on the field (Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) /

On a bitterly cold night, the No. 1 seeded Kentucky soccer team was red hot and remains the only unbeaten Division 1 team still standing in the NCAA College Cup now will host a Sweet 16 match after blanking South Florida 4-0 on Sunday.

Coach Johan Cedergren’s team continues to be plentiful with its own goals on offense while limiting teams to very few opportunities and goals as goalkeeper Casper Mols (11-0-4) kept any balls from getting past him for his seventh clean slate of the year.

The Wildcats  (15-0-5, 5-0-3 Sun Belt) as the top-seed remain home and now will host Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16 on Sunday night at 6 PM EST at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex. This is Kentucky soccer’s third consecutive trip to the Sweet 16.

A very happy Cendergren knows that shutouts in the College Cup are hard to come by and after the match echoed that sentiment.

"“Really proud to be sitting here. Happy for the performance: 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, it’s a really good score especially to be able to keep a clean sheet. Excited to go for another week.”"

The Wildcats are averaging 3.46 goals per match and their attack on the Bulls came from all directions as four different players found the back of the net with goals coming from Martin Soereide, Casper Grening, Clay Holstad, and Max Miller.

Kentucky netted its first goal at the 27-minute mark from sophomore Martin Soereide from an assist by  Ben Damge and Enzo Mauriz.  It was Soereide’s second goal of the season.

Next to find the back of the net was Grening on an assist by Holstad and the 10th goal of the season for the sophomore and a 2-0 first-half advantage.

Gutman, who leads the nation in assists added to that number finding Holstad, a fifth-year senior from Birmingham, Alabama, and his first goal of the year and fifth of his career in the 74th minute.

Putting the finishing touches on the scoring was hometown freshman Miller who sent a shot on goal off assists by Gutmann and Robert Screen and the Bryan Station High School native connected for his second goal of the year.

Kentucky now faces Pittsburgh riding an eight-game winning streak and hasn’t given up a goal in three matches. South Carolina was the last team to score back on November 6 in a 2-1 Wildcat victory. That broke a five-game streak where UK had not allowed a goal since a 3-3 tie on Oct. 15 against West Virginia.

Next up is Pittsburgh (10-4-5, 3-2-3 ACC) a team also playing in its third straight Sweet 16. The Panther’s main scoring threat is Valentin Noel who had two goals in Pitt’s 3-0 win over Akron. He is second in Pitt program history with 33 career goals and his 79 career points also rank second in program history.

Temperatures should be better this Sunday with an expected high in the 50s during the day and currently a 30-percent chance of showers. It is a good forecast for BBN to come out and support the team.

Cedergren said he is always appreciative when the crowds come out, especially at home matches.

"“The last thing I would say is just a huge thank you to Big Blue Nation. They came out in force again. I know the conditions were brutal, but we’re always excited to host them.”"

A victory would send the Wildcats into the Elite 8 against the winner of the Portland and Washington State winner.