Women's Soccer
UK Women’s Soccer Hosts Murray State on Sunday

UK Women’s Soccer Hosts Murray State on Sunday

by Chandler Brandes

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Coming off a dominant shutout on Thursday and aiming to remain undefeated on home turf, the University of Kentucky women’s soccer team returns to the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex on Sunday, Sept. 12 for a matchup against Murray State. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET. 

Admission to all matches at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex will be free to the public for the 2021 season. For those unable to attend in person, the game will be carried on SEC Network+ with Dave Baker and Payton Atkins on the call.

The Wildcats, who own a 4-1-2 record on the year, are fresh off a convincing 6-0 shutout at Eastern Kentucky on Thursday. The win marked UK’s first road victory in almost two years, the last which ironically came against the Colonels on Sept. 12, 2019, in Richmond. 

The six goals recorded at EKU are the most in a single game under head coach Ian Carry, besting the previous record of five set against both Louisiana on Aug. 26, 2021, and Florida on Nov. 13, 2020. It is also the most goals recorded in a given contest since the seven the Wildcats scored versus Eastern Kentucky back in 2013. 

UK has 18 goals through the opening seven matches of the 2021 season, surpassing the 15 goals scored during the entire fall slate in 2020. While four players accounted for those 15 goals a season ago, six Wildcats have already found the back of the net at least once. The team has also recorded 16 assists so far this season, double from the eight it registered all of last year. 

Leading Kentucky’s explosive front line is led by Jordyn Rhodes, who ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in goals (7), goals per game (1), points (17), and points per game (2.43). She also tops the Wildcats’ roster in shots (26) and shots on goal (14), joining Miranda Jimenez with a team-high three assists. 

Accompanying Rhodes on offense is Hannah Richardson, whose five goals is tied for fourth in the SEC. With a pair of multi-goal games against Louisiana and Oakland under her belt, her 11 points, 19 shots, and 10 shots on goal ranks second on the team. Marissa Bosco netted a pair at EKU, now sitting in third on UK’s roster with three goals, seven points, 13 shots, and six shots on goal.

Between the posts, Laura Nielsen has recorded a league-leading 38 saves and tallied a career-high 11 saves against Dayton on Sept. 2. Through the first seven matches of her UK career, her 5.43 saves per game also ranks first in the SEC standings while her .905 save percentage sits in second.

Murray State currently owns a 4-2 record on the year, most recently dropping a 4-0 decision at Indiana on Thursday. The Racers are led by head coach Matt Lodge, who has amassed a 37-17-1 record now in his fourth year at the helm. The team was picked to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference with four first-place votes behind defending champion SIUE. 

Izzy Heckman, who was named the OVC Defender of the Year last year, was selected as a player to watch in the conference preseason poll and leads the team with seven shots on goal. Abby Jones tops the roster with seven points on three goals and an assist, while Symone Cooper and Lauren Payne both have three goals apiece. Jenna Villacres has 26 saves for a .737 save percentage.

Sunday’s match will be a homecoming for Lodge, who is a former team captain and standout player for the Kentucky men’s team. During his time in the blue and white, he was the Wildcats’ first-ever Freshman All-America selection in 2009 and helped lead UK to their first NCAA appearance in nine years in 2012. He finished his playing career third on UK’s all-time assist list and third in game-winners, scoring a total of 24 goals.

The Wildcats will look to maintain their unblemished record against the Racers on Sunday as they own the all-time series record at 2-0. The last meeting between the two teams was on Sept. 11, 2016, with UK posting a 5-0 shutout in front of the home crowd. 

For the latest on the Kentucky women’s soccer program, follow @UKWomensSoccer on Twitter and on Instagram, on Facebook, and on the web at UKathletics.com.

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