LEXINGTON, Ky. (8/26/13) – Kentucky senior forward Tyler Riggs netted a goal in a 1-1 tie with Northern Kentucky in the final exhibition game of the 2013 season, on Sunday night in front of a standing-room only, NKU-record crowd of 1,462 at the NKU Soccer Stadium.
“There was a big improvement from the Dayton game. We were much better on the ball,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. “There was a lot better movement. Guys were showing, guys were asking for it. I really liked that. I also liked the drive and the determination.
“Northern Kentucky, this is a big game for them. We played in front of a lot of fans and they were definitely fired up. It takes a certain kind of mentality to match them. We did a good job, other than then the goal, we did a good job of winning headers, clearing the ball out of our box, stepping out underneath it and then trying to get it down and play. It was a step in the right direction. We have another week before we go in a competitive game, so I expected us to be about 75 or 80-percent and that is kind of where we ended up.”
Kentucky completed its two-game preseason schedule with the tilt at Northern Kentucky. UK posted a 0-0 draw with Dayton on Tuesday in the preseason opener, with UK blanking the Flyers, who ranked No. 7 in the NCAA in scoring offense in 2013.
The Norse set a program attendance record, for the second consecutive year, in hosting the Wildcats in the exhibition. NKU, the 2010 NCAA Division II National Champions, had a total of 1,462 fans at the game on Sunday night, eclipsing the previous record of 1,206 in the scrimmage with the Wildcats in 2012 and over the 1,000 listed capacity.
“It is fantastic,” Cedergren said about the atmosphere. “If you look at some of the teams we have in conference and non-conference play we are going to play in front of big crowds, we are going to play in front of crowds where the student section is right on top of your bench. So you have to be able to get directives out to your team. You have to be able to coach in that environment. And for the players you have to be able to rise to the occasion. You can’t shy away. We want to play. We want players to play with the ball and to want and ask for the ball. And if you can’t do this in this environment then you aren’t going to be able to do it in New Mexico the last game of the year. I love coming here. The coaching staff at Northern Kentucky does a fantastic job. If we can play in front of 1,400 fans for a friendly, then it really prepares us for the season.”
The Wildcats got off to an early lead as Riggs got UK on the board with his first goal in exhibition action in the 31st minute. Kentucky’s defense had its preseason stretch of not allowing a goal snapped at 173 consecutive minutes when NKU netted the equalizing goal in the 84th minute on an assist from the goalkeeper.
Kentucky got on the board in the 31st minute, as Caleb Richardson played a ball in the air over the NKU defense. Riggs secured it off his chest and beat the NKU keeper with a hard-hit shot that sailed low and in at the far post.
In the 84th frame, NKU evened up the game seconds after UK’s Richardson was saddled with a his second yellow card, leaving the Wildcats with 10 men for the final seven minutes. NKU keeper A.J. Fleak booted a ball that sailed into the six-yard box, amidst traffic, with the ball getting skipped off the head of Ian O’Reilly and over the outstretched arms of Jack Van Arsdale.
Van Arsdale worked all 90 minutes in goal, saving four shots, including three in the second half. NKU’s Fleak saved two shots, with NKU owning a 7-6 advantage in corners and a 10-7 lead in shots.
Kentucky will open its regular season on Aug. 30 vs. Wright State at 7:30 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex.
Information provided by Brent Ingram (UK Athletics)
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