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UK advances to final with 3-2 win over Vols

2793 days ago
SEC Network

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -- Third-seeded Kentucky held off a late rally by tenth-seeded Tennessee to win 3-2 in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Soccer Tournament on Friday at the Orange Beach Sportsplex. With the victory, the Wildcats secured a spot in the SEC Tournament final for the first time since 2006.

"It was a very difficult challenge," Kentucky coach Jon Lipsitz said. "What a game. We knew what a battle it was going to be, and I told my team that it would be our toughest game of the year. It would test us in ways - physically and mentally - that we hadn't been tested. Late in the game, that's what happened to us. I'm very proud of our group."

Kentucky shut out the Vols in the first half, but Tennessee stormed back to come within one. Each squad attempted 16 shots in the match.

The Wildcats got on the board in the 27th minute when Kelli Hubly notched her second goal of the tournament with an assist by Cara Ledman. Just a few minutes later, Kentucky scored again on a header by senior Arin Gilliland.

In the second half, Kentucky extended its lead to 3-0 on a penalty kick by Kaitlin Miller. The Volunteers answered in the 75th minute when Hannah Wilkinson scored with an assist from Michele Christy. Wilkinson scored again for the Vols in the 86th minute to make it a one-goal game.

Kentucky (16-5) will play top-seeded Texas A&M in Sunday's championship game at 2:00 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

"We came in here extremely confident and we really are excited to play Texas A&M again," Lipsitz said. "They have been the standard-bearer of our conference this year, won the regular season and I can't think of anybody we'd rather play or that we respect more."

Tennessee drops to 10-10-2 with the loss.

"I am very disappointed," Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky said. "We came out a little bit passive and kind of allowed them to have their way with us a little bit in the first half. Obviously, I continue to be so proud of our team and I really thought we were going to get a third goal there. Unfortunately, we gave away a third goal to dig ourselves into an even deeper hole to start the second half. We still gave ourselves a chance. We have a group of competitive kids who are dying for it. Now, all we can do is hope that maybe we'll be rewarded with a [NCAA] bid because I think this group can get into the tournament and win some games in the NCAA Tournament."