Cody Archibald headed a corner kick taken by John DeLeon into the goal at the far post in the 55th minute from six yards out to break the deadlock in a game that was relatively even in the first half.
Six minutes later, Oakland took a 2-0 lead when Gavin Hoy juked multiple UK defenders inside the 18-yard box, and then smashed the ball across goal and into the left upper-90 from six yards out.
“Disappointing night, of course,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. “You have to give Oakland a lot of credit. Good team. You can tell it’s an older team, lots of juniors and seniors that have been there before. When it got tough, I thought that they excelled and maybe we have some work to do in terms in the mental toughness and especially when the games little tougher.”
Kentucky named a makeshift starting 11 with two regular starters unavailable for selection: Napo Matsoso and Justin Laird. Kentucky started two freshmen who played sparingly this season until the first round of the Conference USA tournament two weeks ago on attacking roles.
The reshuffled lineup held up well in the first half, but lacked the cohesiveness and attacking spark that lifted UK to 10 wins this season in addition to a second-place finish in C-USA and a school-record No. 13 ranking in early November.
“I think we had high hopes of going on and playing for another couple of rounds, but with as young as we are, with as many underclassmen as we have, I think the future is bright,” Cedergren said. “I think we’ve beaten four top-25 teams. I think we have had a pretty good following in terms of getting the Big Blue Nation out and supporting us.
“When you look at the guys we have, we’re only losing Justin (Laird). So to have Cally, who’s player of the year in the conference, come back; Napo (Matsoso) and Jordan (Wilson) are first-team all-conference and Kris is all conference as well. All of those guys are coming back. So as hard as it is to say right now, I think the future is bright and I will say as firmly as I can that this will not happen again.”
Oakland advanced to the second round to play No. 3 national seed Michigan State on Sunday in East Lansing, Michigan.
Oakland has now won 10 of its last 13 games.
Kentucky ended a bounce-back 2014 season with plenty to build on. UK won 10 games, having lost just one game in conference play all year, and boasted three top-25 wins, including one at top-ranked and defending National Champion Notre Dame.
UK will lose one regular starter from the 2014 NCAA Tournament team – Justin Laird – while the rest of the starting 11 is slated to return in 2015.
The Wildcats’ season was also highlighted by Cedergren being voted C-USA Coach of the Year, while goalkeeper Callum Irving was named C-USA Player of the Year, Defensive MVP, Golden Glove Award winner and first-team All-Conference.
UK had three All-C-USA first-teamers, and one player named to the second and third teams each. Additionally two of UK’s freshmen, Hampus Agerstrom and Stefan Stojkovic were voted to the C-USA All-Freshman team.
Kentucky’s regular starting 11 during the 2014 season featured seven underclassmen, three juniors and the lone senior Laird.
Team Records and Series Notes
· With the loss, Kentucky drops to 10-6-4 and with the win, Oakland improves to 10-6-3.
· UK is now 1-6-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
· Oakland won the first meeting of the two teams.
· Appearing in its second NCAA Tournament in Johan Cedergren’s three years as a head coach, it marks the quickest any UK coach has reached two NCAA Tournaments.
· UK finished the year 5-3-2 in home games.
· Kentucky set a new school record with seven consecutive away games without a loss.
· UK’s nine-game unbeaten streak is the longest single-season streak in UK history and the second-longest in program annals.
· UK is 0-4 when its opponent scored first.
· UK junior goalkeeper Callum Irving finished the year with a 0.77 goals-against average, the fourth-best total in UK single-season history.
o Irving ranks tied for second in UK season history with 10 shutouts.
o Irving ranks ninth in UK season annals with 65 saves.
o Irving’s 0.98 career goals-against average ranks third in UK history, behind Greg Raber (2001-02; 0.85) and Andy Gruenebaum (2002-05, 0.97).
o Irving ranks fifth in UK career history with 17 shutouts, five away from the record.
o Irving has 118 saves in his three-year career, the seventh-most in UK history.
· Senior forward Justin Laird finished with 47 shots, the ninth-most in UK single-season history.
o Laird also ranked tied for sixth with three game-winning goals in 2014.
o Laird ranks tied for 14th with four career game-winning goals.
· Junior midfielder Bryan Celis ranks tied for ninth in UK career history with 13 assists.
· Freshman midfielder Noah Hutchins made his first career start after having played in just two games and logged 72 minutes on the year. Hutchins set a new career high with 80 minutes.
2014 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship
Kentucky vs. Oakland
Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex – Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 20, 2014
Oakland Head Coach Eric Pogue
“I am just really proud of the guys. I thought it was a great game. Kentucky is a great team. We knew that we were going to have to come out with our best effort. I thought it was evenly matched in the first half. In the second half, we really dictated the play and had some nice finishes. I am really proud of the team effort. We expected to be here. We expected to compete with Kentucky and give them a game. To be in the second round is expected. We expect to compete for titles and advance. We know that it is not easy. I am just really proud of the guys’ effort from back to front. ”
On adjustments made…
“I think the tendency in a win or go home type game is to be conservative, especially being away from home. I thought we could have pressed them a bit more and get a bit tighter midfield. That is where they were dictating play in the first half.”
#14 Gavin Hoy, MF
“This was a first for me, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little nervous. Once we got the ball moving we all realized that we can compete and play with this team. We started to move the ball around and got comfortable. That is when the goals started flowing. I’m proud of the guys and we played the way we know we can tonight.”
On dealing with adversity…
“We started out the year a little rough. My senior season had some doubts. The last 12 games we only had one loss. We were in form and we knew we could play. We were pretty confident coming in. As I said, we weren’t sure of what to expect coming in. Once the whistle blew and we got the ball moving I knew that we were going to put up a good fight.”
#20 Cody Archibald, F
“Like Gavin said, we knew it was going to be a tough game and that we were going to compete. In the first half, there really weren’t too many chances. Once we relaxed and played our game it opened up. We definitely had the better half and limited them to only one shot all game. I’m really proud of all the guys and their effort to limit them to only one shot on goal and playing our game.”
On dealing with adversity…
“Coming in to an away environment is always hard to do. In the first five games in our season, we were 0-5 away. It was rough for us but we adjusted. In the last 12 or 13 games away or home we battled with every team and only loss one of those. I think we are well adjusted to home or away and its not really a strength or a weakness for us.”
Kentucky Head Coach Johan Cedergren
Opening statement …
“Disappointing night, of course. A couple things. You have to give Oakland a lot of credit. Good team. You can tell it’s an older team, lots of juniors and seniors that have been there before. When it got tough, I thought that they excelled and maybe we have some work to do in terms in the mental toughness and especially when the games little tougher. I thought it was a very big stage for some of the younger guys that were asked to carry a bigger role because of injuries and suspensions and I don’t think we were up for that.
On Oakland’s first goal …
“I was surprised that we gave away a goal off of a corner. I think that was the second goal that we’ve given up and the last one we gave up was against Wright State, which was the first game of the year. So I think we have a pretty good system set there. Up until they scored I thought we had played a fairly efficient game. It wasn’t brilliant by any means, but I thought we were in control of the game. We had two or three chances in the first half and going into halftime I felt pretty good about it. But then definitely the game turned and Oakland deserves to win from their performance in the second half.
“We talk a lot about mistakes and trying to eliminate or reduce mistakes and if you look – and I’ll talk about the season in a second – but if you look at our last three games, we’ve lost our last three and all three of them are on what I would say they’re system errors. They’re individual mistakes. So I think that’s great fuel for us in terms of going forward and building into. But we have to do better. We have to eliminate those kinds of silly mistakes. I’ll take a team beating us if they’re just outplaying us, but making mistakes over and over again, at some point you have to make an adjustment or you have to learn. And I think the goals, if we’re looking at those from today, they’re tough to swallow.”
On the season …
“But in the end, I think we’re really, really disappointed, as you can see on Kris (Tollefsen) and Cally’s (Irving) face, to be sitting here. I think we had high hopes of going on and playing for another couple of rounds, but with as young as we are, with as many underclassmen as we have, I think the future is bright. I think we’ve beaten four top-25 teams. I think we have had a pretty good following in terms of getting the Big Blue Nation out and supporting us. When you look at the guys we have, we’re only losing Justin (Laird). So to have Cally, who’s player of the year in the conference, come back; Napo (Matsoso) and Jordan (Wilson) are first-team all-conference and Kris is all conference as well. All of those guys are coming back. So as hard as it is to say right now, I think the future is bright and I will say as firmly as I can that this will not happen again. We are not going to go 0-3 for the games that matter. And for us it’s time as a staff and as a squad to grow and develop and to learn from this. But we are not sitting here again next year in the NCAA Tournament.”
#1 Callum Irving, G
On the game…
“Pretty similar to what Johan said, obviously it is disappointing losing the last three games in a row, the three most important games of the season. But I thought today, you know first half went well, the second half was just disappointing. Didn’t quite have that fight that Oakland had. Obviously this is not the way you want to end your season but again like Johan said we have a lot to look forward to in the future as hard as it is to see right now. We have some great players returning, good recruiting class coming in so I mean right now it is just back to the drawing board, back to work but we will move on from here.”
On using this loss as fuel for motivation for the future…
“I mean anytime in your life, these are the type of games you want to play in. When they don’t live up to your expectations, you can go two ways with them. You can either sulk about it and not let it benefit you or you can use it as fuel like you said. In spring you know there are a lot of early mornings, a lot of cold early mornings when we are up training, running, lifting weights. You know we want to be back on the field in the fall and I think when you are in those moments you look like to times like these where maybe you came up a bit short because your effort wasn’t there or maybe didn’t pick up a guy and you can really use that as motivation to push yourself in the offseason to comeback and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”