8:40:04 MensSoccerMercer

Kentucky junior forward Daniel Evans runs to the corner after scoring UK’s third goal during UK’s game against Mercer on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, at The Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-1. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Kentucky improved to 7-1 on the season after defeating Duke 1-0 in overtime Friday night. 

This was Kentucky’s second meeting with the Blue Devils all-time; the first coming last September during the fall season where the Wildcats edged Duke 4-2 in Lexington. 

Neither team was able to find their rhythm Friday night, as both teams struggled to find the back of the net throughout. 

A physical first half, the first attempted shot of the game didn’t come until the 10th minute for Kentucky, and the 17th for Duke.

Duke blew a perfect opportunity in that minute to take the lead, but the underneath pass to a wide open Blue Devil’s shot cleared the goal; the Wildcats dodged a bullet and kept the game tied.

In the 25th, a Kentucky corner kick was headed in by the Wildcats, but was called off due to pushing and shoving. 

Junior midfielder Marcel Meinzer went down with an injury in the 33rd, forcing Kentucky to play with a man down for several minutes. He would return to the game in the second half. 

Duke defended Kentucky’s star forward, Eythor Bjorgolfsson, excellently in the first half, limiting his touches and completely stalling the Wildcat offense. 

Toward the end of the half, Duke showed what they were capable of by keeping possession away from Kentucky for several minutes. Forced the to stay on its toes, the Wildcat stood strong to go into halftime tied at zero. 

Duke kept the same game plan in the second - maintaining possession with be aggressiveness inside. Kentucky was back on their heels right out of the locker room. 

A 59th minute Duke free kick cleared the Kentucky goal, leading to a second free kick and another missed opportunity for the Blue Devils, who out-hustled the Wildcats for the majority of the contest. 

Overtime loomed over the game as the game headed to the final ten minutes. Neither team had been able to gain the upper hand throughout the night, and the extra period that felt inevitable finally arrived.

The first overtime told the same story of regulation - both teams found themselves in each other's eighteen but couldn't find the back of the net.

But in the 98th minute, Kentucky had a throw in near the Duke goal. The toss found the leg of Daniel Evans, who knocked it in for the win. The junior forward was quiet throughout the game, but came through for the Wildcats when it truly mattered. It was his first game-winning goal of the year.

The Cats return to The Bell next Thursday, Feb. 25, where and when they will face the Akron Zips. Start time is set at 4:00 p.m. E.T. on ESPN Plus.