LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky picked up its biggest win of the season on Sunday afternoon, as the Wildcats shutout the No. 5 Florida Gators 2-0 in front of a season-high 1,172 fans at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.
It was goals from Zoe Swift (33rd minute) and Stuart Pope (50th minute) that sealed the win for the Wildcats, who have now won three games running, and sit on 15 points in the Southeastern Conference table.
“I think we’ve had quite a few performances that I’m very proud of,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. “I felt like [today] was our most effective. We made a decision as a staff on Wednesday, what we were going to do. But of course we didn’t talk to the team about it until after the Ole Miss game.
“We decided–we knew that they were going to play a 3-5-2 if we didn’t play three forwards. And so we said, ‘Do we have the courage to play a 3-5-2 and match one shape against the other?’ And our players were excited. Literally we spent about 10 minutes on a board and 10 minutes on a practice field going over it and said, ‘Just play.'”
Swift gave the Wildcats the lead just after the half-hour mark as she was slotted in on goal from a through-ball from Michaela Dooley before hammering her fourth goal of the season into the net. Dooley got the ball from the left side and made a run to the corner flag and got endline, beating her defender and serving a ball across the mouth of the goal which was hammered home by Swift, who scored her fourth of the season. The assist went to Dooley, who charted her team-high tying eighth assist of the season, as the sophomore transfer now has 14 points on the season.
Senior captain Stuart Pope sealed the result in the 50th-minute. She knocked home a rebound of a great strike from Courtney Raetzman, which was spectacularly-saved by the Florida goalkeeper, Taylor Burke. Raetzman’s shot came after a lovely two-touch control from a bouncing ball around the top of the box, and then Burke made a spectacular diving save to her right, but allowed a sizeable rebound for Pope to the left of Burke, and Pope knocked in her first goal of the 2014 season.
FINAL – Kentucky 2, #5 Florida 0 pic.twitter.com/7BYIg44tLb
— UKWomensSoccer (@UKWomensSoccer) October 19, 2014
Pope now has six points this season, one goal and four assists, to go along with 21 shots and nine on frame.
Kentucky (10-5-0, 5-3-0 SEC) more than held its own with one of the best possession-oriented and offensive teams in the nation, as the shooting stats and most every statline in the book was on level terms. The Wildcats finished the match with 11 shots, and six of them on goal, with the Gators rattling off 12 shots, and four on goal. Burke was forced to make four saves, while Kentucky keeper Taylor Braunmade four as well on the four shots that she faced.
The win for the Wildcats comes as Lipsitz’s first win against a top-five team, and his third top-10 win all-time at Kentucky during his six-year tenure. The most recent win against a top-10 program was a season ago, when UK toppled No. 10 West Virginia 4-2 in Morgantown.
The win was UK’s third in a row, and fifth win in the past seven matches. In that time frame, the Wildcats have knocked off No. 24 South Carolina, No. 5 Florida, nationally-ranked Auburn and Mississippi State, all at home. Kentucky with one home match remaining this season is 8-1-0 at The Bell.
— UKWomensSoccer (@UKWomensSoccer) October 20, 2014