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Kentucky Soccer Roundup: Thrills, Draws, and Dominance in the Commonwealth’s Collegiate Clash

Hello, and welcome to the Bluegrass Soccer Cast NCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s soccer recap for the week of August 21st – August 27th. This is a weekly recap that will recap all Division 1 soccer programs, in the beautiful Commonwealth of Kentucky, matches from the previous week with some small bits of analysis in there. 

For coverage on the college programs that are NCAA D2/D3, NAIA, or NCCAA, please check out our weekly score report.

Now, let’s check in on how Kentucky’s big dogs did this past week –

Please note that we would love to give in-depth analysis of all matches but we are just 3 freelancers doing our best to give coverage to all things soccer in our beloved Commonwealth.

Bellarmine

Men

Bellarmine 1 – Evansville 1

Sjoberg Scores in Debut as Bellarmine Draw at Evansville

The Bellarmine men’s soccer team kicked off their 2023 campaign on Thursday night, battling Evansville to a 1-1 draw on the road.  

In his first collegiate game, redshirt freshman midfielder Calle Sjoberg scored the opening goal for the Knights. His strike came in the 51st minute off an assist from senior Rahim Shalash. 

The lead did not last long though, as Nacho Diaz Barragan equalized for Evansville less than six minutes later in the 57th minute. The Purple Aces applied consistent pressure all night, outshooting Bellarmine 14-7 overall and 6-3 in shots on target.

Senior goalkeeper Matthew Brozovich made five saves for the Knights to help secure the season opening draw. 

Bellarmine will be disappointed not to grab all three points, but they will have a chance to bounce back quickly. With a balanced veteran lineup mixed with emerging young talent, Bellarmine appears well equipped for the tests ahead. This opening draw represents a solid start, but the team expects even better as they continue gelling together.

Women

Bellarmine 0 – IUPUI 3

Jaguars Blunt Knights in 3-0 Shutout

The Bellarmine women’s soccer team struggled to find its offensive footing Thursday night, falling 3-0 at home against IUPUI. 

The Jaguars scored a pair of first half goals to seize control. Caroline Kelley finished a rebound in the 17th minute before Shannon Ott converted a tap-in soon after.

Kelley iced the match with her second goal late in the 88th minute to complete the scoring.

Bellarmine failed to match the offensive fireworks of its season opener, managing just three shots in the first half. The Knights had some near misses in the second half, including a Teagan Douglas shot that rang off the post. 

But IUPUI’s early goals were enough, dropping Bellarmine to 0-1-1 on the young season.

The Knights will look to rediscover their scoring touch Sunday when Indianapolis visits. Bellarmine remains seeking its first win since transitioning to DI.

Bellarmine 1 UIndy 0

Heuglin Nets Winner as Knights Edge Greyhounds 

Senior Brielle Heuglin played the hero Sunday, scoring in the 73rd minute to lift the Bellarmine women’s soccer team past the University of Indianapolis 1-0. It marked a satisfying win over a familiar foe, as UIndy was a conference rival of the Knights during their DII days. 

Bellarmine dominated possession but struggled to break through until Heuglin pounced on a rebound of a Clara Spurlock shot and knocked home her second goal this season. The Knights defense stepped up after allowing three goals in each of their first two contests. Natalie Schutte made a clutch save in her Bellarmine debut to turn away Indianapolis’ best chance and preserve the shutout. Bellarmine withstood just two shots on goal in a strong defensive effort. 

The victory gave the Knights their first win since transitioning to DI. With Heuglin providing veteran leadership and Schutte stabilizing the back line, Bellarmine appears to be coming together in the early going. The Knights will now take momentum on the road Thursday against Evansville, seeking their first 2-1 start since 2018.

Eastern Kentucky

EKU 1 – Belmont 1

The Colonels got their first positive result of the season on Thursday with their noon kickoff in a 1-1 draw against former OVC foe Belmont. The result moved EKU to 0-1-2 on the year and 0-1-1 at home.

EKU got on the board first when freshman Erica Cox (Liberty Township, Ohio) netted the first goal of her college career in the 33rd minute after sophomore Maddy Murphy (Terrace Park, Ohio)  won the ball in the final 3rd and passed it off to Cox, who arced a perfect shot from the top of the box just over the outstretched arm Bruins keeper Sarah Doyle.

Belmont would get their payback in the 62nd minute off a corner kick back heeled up and headed in by Kennedy Wise. The Colonels would fight hard to regain the lead, outshooting Belmont 6-1 in the final 25 minutes, but could not find the back of the net. The Colonel’s junior keeper, Marah Krick (Glenmoore, Pa.), made a season-high 5 saves in the match, her highest match total since 2021.

The Colonel traveled to Chicago to face DePaul in their next match on Thursday, August 31st, at 5 pm EST/4 pm CST.

Kentucky

Men

#3 UK 3 – FGCU 0

The Wildcats started their 2023 quest for a national championship on Thursday with a 3-0 thrashing of Florida Gulf Coast at the Bell.

All 3 goals came from transfer newcomers to the Cedergren squad who would score in the match. Starting the scoring in the 31st minute from a PK was Louisville transfer senior Aboubacar Camara (Philadelphia, PA). Fellow transfer junior Logan Dorsey (Evergreen, Co.), who came to Lexington from Gonzaga, would give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead going into the half, finding the back of the net in the 45th minute off an assist from hometown sophomore Max Miller (Lexington, KY). Capping off the night would be UC Santa Barbara graduate transfer Finn Ballard McBride (Sydney, Australia) in the 61st minute, assisted by Camara and Miller. Sophomore keeper Casper Mols (Aabenraa, Denmark) earned his 8th career shutout, making 3 saves.

The Wildcats will return to the Bell on Monday, August 28th, against East Tennessee State at 7:30 pm EST/6:30 CST.

Women

UK 2 – Murray St. 1

The Wildcats continued their interstate dominance on Thursday, traveling down to Murray State and escaping with a 2-1 victory.

Graduate student forward Jordyn Rhodes (South Lebanon, Ohio) would continue her hot start to the 2023 campaign, netting both of the Wildcat’s goals, finding the back of the net in 56th, assisted by senior Grace Phillpotts (Fenton, MI.) and 76th minute, assisted by graduate student Maya Lacognato (Granger, Ind.). The two goals would give Rhodes sole possession of 2nd all-time in the Wildcats career goals record book.

The Races did answer quickly to Rhodes’s first goal, with Mary Hardy beating Marz Josephson in the 58th minute, but would be unable to avoid the home loss. The Wildcats moved to 4-0-0 all-time against Murray and 9-0-1 in non-conference play under Coach Fabiano.

UK 1 – Valparaiso 1

Wildcats’ comeback efforts fell short in a 1-1 draw to the Beacons of Valparaiso in the home opener at the Belle. The draw moves the Wildcats to 2-1-0 on the season.

The Beacons got on the board first in the 20th minute when Addy Joiner scored a world-class curler from 18 yards out, beating Josephson into the upper right corner. Red-hot Rhodes continues to find the back of the net, getting her 4th goal on the year through 3 matches and her 40th collegiate career goal when she got the equalizer for the Cats in the 29th minute, scoring a header off a beautiful cross from senior midfielder ÚlfaÚlfarsdóttir (Hafnarfjordur, Iceland). 

The Wildcats would dominate the remainder of the match, leading the Beacons to stop them physically, picking up 5 yellow cards and a red card. Still, Beacon keeper Nikki Coryell and the Beacon backline stood firm, allowing just 1 goal in 17 shots from the Wildcats.

UT Martin travels into the Bell to face the Wildcats in their next match on Thursday, August 31st, at 7:30 pm EST/6:30 pm CST.

Louisville

Men

UofL 1 – #16 Tulsa 0

Cardinals Stun No. 16 Tulsa 1-0 in Season Opener

The Louisville men’s soccer team started the 2023 season on a winning note, defeating No. 16 Tulsa 1-0 at home on Thursday night. Sophomore Konstantinos Georgallides netted the lone goal in the 74th minute to give the Cardinals their first victory.

It was a tightly-contested match between the two NCAA Tournament teams from last season. Both sides had their fair share of chances in the first half, but the game went into halftime still scoreless. 

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alex Svetanoff kept Louisville in the match with six saves, repeatedly denying Tulsa’s attack. His efforts allowed the Cardinals to stay level until finally breaking through late.

In the 74th minute, Georgallides collected a rebound off a shot by Sander Roed and fired home the game-winner with his left foot. It was a well-taken goal by the sophomore, who displayed great positioning and composure.

The Louisville defense held strong over the final 16 minutes plus stoppage time to secure the shutout. It was an impressive performance to open the season against a ranked opponent.

Head coach John Michael Hayden has to be pleased with his team’s effort, especially the play of Svetanoff in his first college start. If the Cardinals can continue defending well and create more scoring chances, they could be in for a special year.

The win improves Louisville’s record to 1-0-0 as they now prepare for a quick turnaround against Bellarmine on Monday. Riding high after this statement victory, the Cardinals will look to keep things rolling.

Women

UofL 1 Dayton 2

Late Goal Drops Cardinals at Dayton

The Louisville women’s soccer team suffered a tough 2-1 road loss against Dayton on Thursday night. The Cardinals allowed an early goal but battled back to equalize before conceding the game-winner late.

Dayton jumped ahead in the 7th minute on a goal from Kyra Karfonta. Louisville responded well and created numerous chances throughout the first half, including good looks from Maya Maxwell, Addie Chester, and Fiona Gaißer. However, the Cardinals could not find an equalizer before the break.  

Louisville continued to carry the play in the second half. After Malene Nielsen came on in goal and saved a Dayton penalty in the 57th minute, Ravin Alexander finally broke through for the Cardinals just minutes later. Alexander finished off a cross from Gaißer to make it 1-1.

The Cardinals seemed poised to escape with a road point, but Dayton scored the winner in the 86th minute to regain the lead. Louisville had a 15-10 edge in shots but could not find a late equalizer.

“We played well enough to get a result tonight,” said Louisville head coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes. “Unfortunately we couldn’t close it out in the end. But I saw a lot of positives and I think we’re trending in the right direction.”

UofL 0 NKU 0

Cardinals Battle Norse to Scoreless Draw

The University of Louisville women’s soccer team played to a scoreless draw on Sunday, battling the Norse from Northern Kentucky University to a 0-0 result at home. The Cardinals controlled possession but could not find the back of the net. Louisville held a 21-4 edge in shots, including a 9-1 advantage in the first half. However, quality finishing eluded the Cardinals once again. Savina Zamborini, Maya Maxwell, and Addie Chester all had scoring chances turned away by the stingy Norse defense.  

The best opportunity for Louisville came in the 47th minute when Mackenzie Geigle set up Maxwell for a one-on-one chance, but her low shot was saved off the line. Northern Kentucky nearly stole a goal in the 68th minute, but a shot off the crossbar was cleared away by keeper Erynn Floyd.

While the attack remains a work in progress, Louisville’s defense has been rock solid at home. The Cardinals have yet to allow a goal at Lynn Stadium this year. Louisville will look to finally break through on Thursday against Illinois. If the Cards can start finishing chances and maintaining their defensive focus, results should follow soon for this young squad.

Morehead State

Morehead St. 0 – Indiana 3

The Eagles fell in a tough road match against the Hoosier of Indiana 3-0 this past Thursday. The result moves Morehead to 1-0-2 on the year and is the 2nd time the Eagles have been shut out this season.

Star sophomore keeper Erin Gibbs (Mesa, Ariz.) allowed 3 goals past her in the battle, but she tallied 8 saves under constant fire by a Hoosier attack that fired off 21 shots with 11 on target. The Hoosiers got on the board early, with Sydney Masur scoring in the 10th minute. They then widened their lead just 44 seconds into the 2nd half by Paige Webber, and Piper Coffield capped off the scoring with a PK in the 69th minute.

The Eagle’s offense was snuffed out, managing only 4 shots the entire match, with 3 on target. Coach Chris Fox must solve the attack struggles during their non-conference play to bring the Eagles their first winning season since 2014.

The Eagles will return home to face Wright State on Wednesday, August 30th, at 6 pm EST/5 pm CST.

Murray State

Murray State 1 Kentucky 2

Racers Push Wildcats to Limit in Defeat

The Murray State women’s soccer team came up just short in a hard-fought 2-1 loss against Kentucky on Thursday night. The Racers went toe-to-toe with the SEC powerhouse Wildcats, keeping the match scoreless through the first half.  

Kentucky eventually broke through with a goal from star forward Jordyn Rhodes in the 56th minute. But the Racers responded quickly when sophomore Mary Hardy scored her first goal of the season just a minute later to equalize at 1-1.

The stalemate did not last long, as Rhodes struck again in the 76th minute to put the Wildcats back in front. Murray State battled until the final whistle but could not find an equalizer.

While certainly disappointed with the outcome, the Racers showed they could compete with one of the top programs in the region. Limiting Kentucky’s high-powered attack to just two goals was an accomplishment in itself for the Murray State defense.

Coach Matt Lodge will take plenty of positives from his team’s gutsy performance as the Racers now embark on a four-game road trip. Murray State served notice they will be a tough out in the Missouri Valley Conference race this season.

Murray State 2 Jackson State 0

Racers Grab First Victory of 2023 at Jackson State

The Murray State soccer team finally broke into the win column on Sunday, defeating Jackson State 2-0 on the road for their first victory of the season. Graduate student Grace Bodker netted the eventual game-winner in the 63rd minute, scoring her second career goal in a Murray State uniform. Sophomore Mary Hardy provided an insurance tally in the 77th minute off an assist from Morgan Bodker.

Hardy was active all match, accounting for 7 of the Racers’ 10 shots including 3 on goal. The sophomore now has 2 goals in the last 2 games after scoring Murray State’s lone goal against Kentucky.  

The victory marked head coach Matt Lodge’s 50th win leading the Racers, tying him for 2nd most in program history. Goalkeeper Jenna Villacres pitched the shutout between the posts.

After opening the season with 3 straight losses, Murray State finally gained some positive momentum ahead of Missouri Valley Conference play. The Racers will look to keep rolling when they face Lindenwood on Thursday.

Northern Kentucky

Men

NKU 1 – UAB 1

The Norse come back after a first-half deficit to draw with the Blazers of UAB 1-1 in their early morning (10 am kickoff) season-opening clash on Thursday.

The Blazers would get on the board late in the first half in the 35th minute by Isaac Calderon, his first goal of the year. The Norse would get the equalizer in the 71st minute thanks to the efforts of senior transfer forward Nico Stoddart (Brampton, Ontario) after the Blazer’s Alan Melendez picked up a red card in the 68th minute. 

Coach Poitras’s side would dominate the Blazers offensively, firing 14 shots to the Blazers 6. However, only 5 shots were on target for the Norse, and they could not capitalize off 8 corner kicks.

NKU 1 – FGCU 1

The Norse escaped with a 1-1 draw against FGCU on Sunday afternoon to move to 0-0-2 on the 2023 campaign – coming back from a 1-0 first-half deficit for the 2nd game in a row.

Ale Rodriguez Lopez would open the match scoring for FGCU in the 20th minute. The Norse defense would hold firm for the next 70 minutes, outlasting 14 shots, with 9 in the first half. The Norse would find their equalizer in the 90th minute with just 25 seconds left on the clock when sophomore forward Joseph Roddy (Sydney, Australia) found the back of the net. FGCU did dominate the match, but NKU withstood the physicality of the Eagles – 12 fouls to the Norse 8 and 3 yellow cards to the Norse 1 –  to escape with the draw.

The Norse of NKU will travel on the road to face the Knights of Bellarmine on Monday, September 4th, at 7 pm EST/6 pm CST.

Women

NKU 1 – Miami (OH) 0

The Norse continued their momentum from the 3-3 comeback draw against Bellarmine into a 1-0 win over Miami (OH) on Thursday for their first win of 2023. 

The Norse got their goal early in the 9th minute from freshman forward Natalie Newman (Kewaskum, Wisconsin), with freshman forward Erykah Cornett (Cincinnati, Ohio) and freshman midfielder Kylie Anderson (St. Louis, Missouri) picking up the assist. The match was highly defensive, with both NKU only managing 5 shots on goal to Miami’s 2 with a host of corner kicks (11 total). Norse senior keeper Mickayla Kowalski (Harrison, Ohio) picked up her 3rd career clean sheet in the contest. 

The Norse did dominate the match in terms of possession, but they will need to start to convert in the final 3rd more if they wish to bounce back from their out-of-character 2022 season.

NKU 0 – Louisville 0

The Norse defense stands firm, and NKU escapes with a 0-0 draw against in-state foe Louisville Cardinals on Sunday night to move to 1-2-1 on the year. The draw also marks the Norse 2nd draw in a week in Louisville after the thrilling 3-3 draw to Bellarmine last Sunday.

Senior keeper Mickayla Kowalski shined for the Norse, tying her career-high from 2022 with 7 saves. The Norse backline stood firm through constant pressure from the Cardinal attacking, not conceding a goal even after allowing 21 shots and 5 corner kicks. The Cardinals also physically dominated the Norse with 17 fouls to NK U’s 10, but the Norse did pick up the match’s 2 yellow cards.

While the Norse defense has been strong this season, the attack still has some parts that do not entirely fit together, with the Norse attack having just 1 shot in the entirety of the 1st half. The Norse will have a whole week to try and fix the attack before they travel to Athens, Ohio, to face the University of Ohio on Sunday, September 3rd, at 1 pm EST/12 pm CST.

Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky 2 Siena 2

The WKU women’s soccer team took a 2-0 first half lead but ended up settling for a 2-2 tie against Siena on Thursday night.  

The Lady Toppers move to 1-0-2 on the young season following the home draw.

WKU came out firing in the opening half, getting goals from Kayla Meyer in the 5th minute and Ambere Barnett in the 11th minute to grab the quick 2-0 advantage. It was Meyer’s first goal of the season and Barnett’s first since returning from injury.

But Siena responded coming out of halftime. The Saints switched up their formation and caught WKU off guard, scoring in the 47th minute. Siena then equalized in the 60th minute to stun the home crowd.

The Lady Toppers will rue missed opportunities in the second half to put the game away. Siena nearly stole the win in the final seconds, rattling a shot off the post before WKU goalkeeper Maddie Davis covered up the rebound. 

WKU finished with a 16-10 edge in shots, including 6-4 in shots on goal. But they were unable to find the finishing touch after halftime.

WKU 1 #17 Xavier 5

The WKU women’s soccer team dropped a tough 5-1 decision to No. 17 Xavier on Sunday afternoon at home. Xavier struck first in the 24th minute to grab a 1-0 lead. But the Lady Toppers answered quickly when Aspen Seaich set up Lily Rummo for the equalizing goal in the 45th minute. 

The tie was short-lived though as Xavier retook the lead just 44 seconds later right before halftime.  The Musketeers added three more goals in the second half to pull away for the 5-1 victory. Rummo’s goal was her first of the season and fifth of her WKU career. She became the eighth different Lady Topper to score so far this year.

Goalkeeper Maddie Davis recorded a career-high nine saves in the losing effort. 

It was a challenging non-conference test for WKU against the ranked Xavier side. The Lady Toppers will look to regroup at home this coming weekend when they wrap up their season-opening six-match homestand against North Alabama on Friday and Belmont on Sunday.

That wraps up this week of the Bluegrass D1 Recap, tune in all season long for updates on your favorite college teams throughout the beautiful commonwealth, and make sure to stick to Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of everything soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth. 


Photo by Taris Smith | Louisville Athletics

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Kentucky Soccer Roundup: Thrills, Draws, and Dominance in the Commonwealth’s Collegiate Clash

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