In its first match against a ranked opponent this season, the University of Kentucky women’s soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision at No. 15 South Florida on Sunday afternoon in Tampa, Florida.

Following the loss, the Wildcats fall to 2-1-1 on the year while the Bulls improve to 3-1.  

It was back and forth between UK and USF throughout the first half, but South Florida could not overcome a disciplined Kentucky backline. The Bulls had a scoring chance on the first corner kick of the day in the 24th minute, but good defensive coverage from the Wildcats prevented them from getting on the board first.

A foul on Kentucky inside the box gave South Florida another opportunity in the 27th minute, this time on a penalty kick. The attempt by Sydny Nasello, who had successful penalty kicks in the last two games for the Bulls, was denied by Laura Nielsen to keep the score locked at zero apiece. 

It was Kentucky’s chance for a penalty kick of its own in the 42nd minute after a yellow card on South Florida’s goalkeeper. Although the shot by Jordyn Rhodes was stopped by Katrina Haarmann, Sara Makoben-Blessing found the rebound for the first goal of her career to put Kentucky up by one heading into the break.

After a red card on South Florida’s Chyanne Dennis in the 53rd minute, Kentucky came out of an hour-long lightning delay up one player. However, the Wildcats were unable to capitalize offensively as the Bulls maintained possession for the majority of the second frame. 

Nasello broke through the tenacious UK backline in the 81st minute, tucking a shot away into the bottom right corner for the equalizer. Vivianne Bessette then doubled the Bulls’ lead in the 85th minute with a header off a corner kick.

South Florida had the advantage in scoring off set pieces with a 9-0 lead over Kentucky in corner kicks, including seven in the second half. The Bulls fired off 20 shots to the Wildcats’ three, with the attempts from Rhodes, Makoben-Blessing, and Maria Olsen all on target.

Nielsen concluded the match with a career-high seven saves between the posts.

The Wildcats return to Lexington for a two-game home stretch on Thursday, Sept. 2 as they host Dayton at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex at 7 p.m. ET. 

For the latest on the Kentucky women’s soccer program, follow @UKWomensSoccer on Twitter and on Instagram, on Facebook, and on the web at UKathletics.com.

– GO CATS –

For more information contact:

Chandler Brandes 

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