The work of freshman goalkeeper Steph Stull was a vital piece in allowing Kentucky to stay within striking distance of the No. 7 ranked Gamecocks (11-1-0, 5-0-0 SEC). She accrued five saves in total, four of them coming in the second half, but her efforts weren’t enough to prevent a UK loss as the Cats fell to USC 1-0.
“I think the team in general played really well, like a lot of improvement,” Stull said. “Obviously not the result we wanted but we’re getting better every game and there’s a lot to build on today for the next game coming up and hopefully we get a result.”
Coach Ian Carry also voiced support for his goalkeeper.
“Fantastic young woman, again works her tail off in practice and proud to have her here at Kentucky as our number one goalkeeper,” Carry said. “A lot of development ahead of her but games like this, this is where the experience comes.”
The match started off with heavily controlled possession by South Carolina in the attacking zone. The back line of the Wildcats secured the box, and it was clear that Kentucky was energized and ready for this challenge with a barrage of counter attack opportunities which unfortunately yielded only two shots with zero on goal in the first half.
One of the few mistakes made by the Kentucky defense came during the 25th minute when a through ball played by USC’s leader scorer Elexa Bahr was collected by Ryan Gareis, who put in to the corner of the net. Gareis’ fourth goal of the year ended up being the lone goal of the entire match.
The second half contained another strong showing by the Cats’ defense. Stull made a couple saves early, including one from a wide open look by Elexa Bahr. Kentucky’s closest scoring chanced happened soon after when freshman Hannah Richardson raced down the wing to cross a ball into the center. Subsequently blocked by the shoulder of the defender, the ball went wide of the post.
UK had a few more chances come up for them towards the end of the match, most notably being two strikes from outside the box by both Hannah Richardson and Gina Crossetti. Both dipped right above the crossbar.
The Cats (5-7-2, 0-5-0 SEC) are still looking for their first conference win. They travel next to Gainesville to face the no. 19 Florida Gators on Sunday, October 13 at 1:00 p.m.