ST. LOUIS - After playing scoreless through four overtime periods, the University of Kentucky mens soccer team defeated Saint Louis on penalty kicks, 4-2. Senior goalkeeper Brian O'Leary blocked two Billiken PKs to send the Cats to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
"This is such a big win for us," head coach Ian Collins said. "I cannot tell you how proud I am of my guys. Every one of them played their hearts out today. I have to give credit to Saint Louis. They are a very good team, and they have some very good players. Now we are going to enjoy this today and then get ready to prepare for next week."
The Cats (12-8-1) stepped up first with junior Marc Theriault taking the PK, but the shot went just high hitting the crossbar. O'Leary blocked the first and third Billiken kicks, and then the Cats were up 3-2 when sophomore J.D. Stephenson stepped up for UKs final kick. He blasted it past SLU goalkeeper John Politis for the victory.
UK played good defense all night, but against the Billiken attack, UK surrendered 21 shots; however, OLeary kept the nets locked collecting a season-high 13 saves.
"That is about the best goalkeeping I have seen," SLU head coach Bob Warming said.
UK had a few chances offensively, getting seven shots on the day, with sophomore Chris McDaniel nearly knocking one in that would have made the overtimes useless. Junior Ilkka Jantti lobbed in a free kick into the box where McDaniel received it. Surrounded by defenders, he got a slight touch on the ball getting it past SLU goalkeeper John Politis, but another Billiken got to the goal line just in time to clear it away.
The Cats move onto second-round action to face the winner of IUPUI and sixth-seeded Southern Methodist next weekend. Date and time have not yet been determined.
Mens College Soccer
St. Louis, Mo. - Att. 2,125
1 2 OT1 OT2 OT3 OT4 F
SLU 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kentucky0 0 0 0 0 0 0
UK advances on penalty kicks, 4-2.
Goals: UK - none; SLU - none
UK - Brian OLeary, Brian Mitts, Chris Austin, J.D. Stephenson;
SLU - Joe Hammes, Jack Jewsbury
Shots: UK 7; SLU 21
Goalkeeper Saves: UK - Brian OLeary 11; SLU - John Politis 4
Corner Kicks: UK 5; SLU 14