Watch the TotalCast Live!
LEXINGTON, Ken. (November 12) -- The University of Kentucky men's soccer team bested Northern Illinois 2-1
on Friday at the UK Soccer Complex to claim the Mid-American Conference
title and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Despite tying a school-record with 17 shots in the first half, the
Wildcats could not find the nets and the first period ended in a scoreless
UK striker Jason Bell opened the scoring in the 68th minute when he blasted
a shot past the NIU keeper off a J.D. Stephenson cross.
The Huskies would strike back less than six minutes later, however, as
Alex D'Orsi headed in a Jason Ryder throw in at 72:57 to even the score at
Bell and the Cats would not be denied, though, as the senior's five-yard
shot gave UK a 2-1 lead at 83:10 on pass from Brent Rainey.
UK dominated statistically, holding a gaudy 25-5 shot advantage over the
Huskies en route to its first-ever MAC crown and NCAA berth.
"It's great to see all our hard work and effort pay off," Bell said. "This
is the greatest feeling in the world."
"Our players worked so hard all season," UK Coach Ian Collins said. "They
are the happiest bunch of guys I've ever seen and they really deserve it."
UK's Bell, Giovanni Fernandes, Chris McAlpine and Brian O'Leary topped the
MAC All-Tournament team and Collins praised their play.
"Jason always seems to find a way to get it done offensively," Collins
said. "Chris McAlpine really controlled the midfield and O'Leary came up
big all tournament. Giovanni's play was simply brilliant."
With the win, the Cats improve to 13-6-1, while NIU finishes its season at
UK will now wait until Monday night, when the NCAA announces pairings, to
see where it plays next weekend.
Mid-American Conference Championship
1 2 F
Northern Illinois 0 1 1
Kentucky 0 2 2
Goals: UK - Jason Bell (J.D. Stephenson) 67:07, Bell (Brent Rainey) 83:10;
NIU - Alex D'Orsi (Jason Ryder) 72:57
MAC All-Tournament Team
Giovanni Fernandes Kentucky
Brian O'Leary Kentucky
Jason Bell Kentucky
Chris McAlpine Kentucky
Peter Agrimson Northern Illinois
Kristoffer Nystedt Northern Illinois
Alex D'Orsi Northern Illinois
Eric Pogue Western Michigan
Richard Keith Western Michigan
Wayne Bennett Marshall
Vivian Baku Marshall