The Kentucky men's soccer team stayed home Wednesday night as they looked to repeat last game's effort when they shut out Tulsa. Instead, the Wildcats tied 2-2 with the Xavier Musketeers for the third straight season.
Xavier came to Lexington with an undefeated record, having beaten Cincinnati 2-1 in its last game.
Kentucky's only tie last season came to Xavier in a double overtime thriller, setting more hype around Wednesday night's game.
Possession was shared by both teams in the midfield as they had a hard time cracking each others defenses to create goal opportunities. The ball was distributed with a lot of hard battles, and intensified beginning with a 2nd minute yellow card from Xavier's captain defender Jacob Goodall.
Late in the 43rd minute, Xavier’s Derrick Otim scored on what was a powerful behind-the-box strike-- it almost unstoppable as it met the crossbar on its way in. The Wildcats landed a few opportunities but could not find the back of the net. The Musketeers took that late goal to go into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
The second half was yet another defensive battle. In the 55th minute, Xavier’s Karsen Henderlong scored his third goal of the season to extend the Musketeers' lead to 2-0.
Despite being down by two goals, the Cats didn't let go of the gas petal. Just two minutes after Xavier's second goal Kentucky’s Daniel Evans scored to get some momentum back for Kentucky. Ten minutes later in the 68th minute, Bailey Rouse scored a behind the back goal off an assist from Brandon McManus to equalize the game at 2-2.
The match ended in a double OT draw as the Wildcats were not able to get one past the goal line. Xavier’s goalie Matthew Rosenberg was a big factor-- the redshirt junior had multiple saves in the overtime periods to keep the Musketeers undefeated.
“I was really worried being 2-0 down, but the guys rallied, proud of them fighting back,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said after the game.
He added that his team's defense still has a lot to improve on.
“I think from the point when we scored the first goal, there was only one team on the field, but we still have to figure a way to not give up these silly goals," Cedergren said.
The Cats will face their first conference opponent on Sunday as they take on no. 12 ranked Charlotte on the road at 3:00 p.m.