Wildcats pick up three crucial points in 1-0 win over South Carolina – LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky women’s soccer team picked up its third and most important win of the 2014 Southeastern Conference season on Friday night on a rainy night at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex as junior Courtney Raetzman scored a clinical goal from Cara Ledman in the 66th minute to seal a 1-0 win over South Carolina.
“In the SEC, I think it’s absolutely huge,” UK associate head coach Michelle Rayner said after the match. “Any win is great. First, give credit to South Carolina and what Shelley and Jamie do with their program. They’ve got amazing team. They’re very well organized, so any win, obviously, within the SEC is crucial.”
Rayner stepped in and served as the head coach and chief tactician for Friday night’s match, as UK head coach served his one-match touchline ban for Sunday afternoon’s red card.
“I’ve done it before,” Rayner said. “I can’t fill Jon’s shoes, that’s for sure, but obviously (a) team effort, coaching staff effort and obviously Jon was here all week prior to the match. So it’s just important and hopefully we made him proud tonight.”
Kentucky (8-5-0, 3-3-0 SEC) clicked on all cylinders on Friday night, specifically in the defensive third, as the Gamecocks (9-4-1, 2-3-1 SEC) were never able to generate any quality scoring opportunities all night, and UK limited USC to just five shots on goal the entire match.
The strike for UK came in the 66th minute as Raetzman, a junior from Elk Grove, Ill., scored a sliding goal across the top of the six-yard box past a diving Sabrina D’Angelo, who recorded six saves on the night. The ball was fed in from the left flank as wideback Cara Ledman beat her player 1v1 down the side and cut in towards the top of the 18 on the left side. Ledman then shook the secondary defender to the outside, and got endline before serving in a low, high-paced cross to a foot-first diving Raetzman, who poked it home for the match’s only goal.
Friday night’s match snapped a two-match losing streak for the Wildcats, and now puts them at nine points on the Southeastern Conference table. Entering the match on Friday night, South Carolina sported an RPI of No.14 in the country, one of three SEC teams inside the top 15 of the country in the national RPI.
The goal for Raetzman was her fifth of the season, who now has two game-winning goals on the season and four in her UK career. Ledman’s assist was the Franklin, Tenn., native’s fifth of the season, and seventh of her career.
Freshman Taylor Braun was only forced to make five saves on the night, but recorded her third-career shutout in her freshman campaign, as UK goalkeeping has now forced six shutouts this season. Braun was forced to make two deflection saves over the net, and fend off five South Carolina corner kicks in the match, and also kept her composure in organizing the defense down the final 10 minutes of the match.
The Wildcats offense continues to be one of the best in the nation, as UK has not been shutout all season. There have been 10 different goal-scorers for the Wildcats this season, and 14 different players have recorded an assist in 2014, continuing to show fight from this young Wildcat team.
“Loved it. Loved it,” Rayner said. “And I think that’s really kind of what we’ve been lacking, is not only the fight but winning the first and second balls and the battle in the midfield and primarily up top, to keep the ball for us. And I think we did a much better job of that today.”
Kentucky, like the rest of the SEC, will take the rest of the weekend off before getting back toFriday/Sunday weekends next week. The Wildcats will continue its three-match homestand on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET against the Ole Miss Rebels (SEC Network+), before closing out the weekend with No. 4 Florida on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
For continuing coverage of UK women’s soccer, log on to UKathletics.com.