LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Cincinnati men's soccer team knocked off the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, 1-0, on Tuesday night at the Bell Soccer Complex. Freshman Sean Clarke tallied the match-winning goal in the 82nd minute.
With the win, UC improves to 3-2-1 on the season and picks up its first road victory of 2017. The win also marks the program's first win over a top-25 team since beating 17th-ranked Temple, 3-2, on Sept. 26, 2015 at Gettler Stadium. It is also UC's first win over UK since 2001. Suffering their first defeat of the year, the Wildcats fall to 4-1-1 overall and drop their first match in Lexington since Nov. 19, 2015.
Men's soccer: Tulsa upsets No. 1 Stanford 2-0
Playing aggressive late, Clarke was finally able to get the Bearcats over the hump in the 82nd minute when he rebounded his own shot and floated the ball over the challenging UK goalkeeper for the first and only score of the match. The goal was the freshman's first of the season.
UC showed grit in the final minutes when a UK header off of a corner kick was saved by a UC team defensive effort to protect the lead as the Wildcats sent numbers forward in front of the net searching for the equalizer.
Clarke led the UC offensive with four shots including one of the team's two shots on goal. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Pearce Skinner was huge in his fourth-career start with a career-best nine saves, UC's most since Pedro Diaz's nine at UCF on Oct. 31, 2015.
Playing in soggy conditions for the second time this month, the Bearcats saw the home team dominate possession for much of the opening half. Looking to get on the board quickly, UC was aggressive early resulting in corner-kick opportunities. In the first few minutes of the match, sophomore midfielder David Sanz sent a free kick into the box where sophomore forward Austin Smythe just missed cashing in the first goal of the match. The Red & Black's offensive opportunities were limited for much of the remainder of the period but stayed solid on defense with Skinner recording a then career-high-tying five saves.
The Bearcats had a solid run early in the second half when Clarke got loose and tried to execute a give-and-go with Smythe but was negated. UC again caused some havoc in the box minutes later but weren't quite able to convert. The Red & Black thought it had the go-ahead score in the 76th minute when Clarke raced down center field and dished it to his right to Smythe who struck the ball into the back of the net from inside the box but was called offside.
Minutes later, UK had a prime opportunity for a goal from inside the box but Skinner's diving deflection turned the shot away. UC aggressiveness on the offensive end would go on to pay dividends in the final 10 minutes as well as its bend-but-don't-break approach on defense.