Cats Punch Ticket to C-USA Final – University of Kentucky Athletics – UKAthletics

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Wildcats are headed back to the Conference USA Championship final.

 

Behind a game winner from Luke Andrews and a brace by Daniel Evans, fourth-seeded No. 15 Kentucky (13-1-4) knocked off regular season conference champion No. 14 FIU (12-3-2) 3-0 on Friday at Transamerica Field.

 

Kentucky advances to the tournament’s championship game for the first time since winning the event on the same pitch in 2018. The Wildcats will face sixth-seeded Florida Atlantic (9-6-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

 

Friday’s semifinal contest started off as a defensive struggle, with each team managing only two shots in the first half. The physicality continued into the second frame, but the Kentucky offense caught fire despite it.

 

A counterattack in the 54th minute began with Nick Gutmann streaking down the right sideline, where he lost his defender and found Andrews on the ground for the go-ahead score from 12 yards out.

 

Following a second straight yellow card for FIU, the Panthers’ Philip Hildebrandt was whistled for an aggressive tackle on Marcel Meinzer that left the Kentucky midfielder shaken up in the 69th minute. A visible reaction from fellow team captain Bailey Rouse drew the Wildcats’ first yellow before Hildebrandt was handed a red card for the original foul and ejected from the match.

 

Kentucky would finish the game with an 11-on-10 advantage.

 

Shortly after the scuffle, Enzo Mauriz found Gutmann on a run from the right wing once again, where the first-year Wildcat set up Evans with a wide-open net for a routine finish in the 76th minute.

 

With a two-goal lead, Evans corralled a rebound from a shot by Gutmann and scored his second goal in an 80-second span to notch his first brace since Oct. 27, 2019.

 

Kentucky ultimately outshot FIU 10-6 on the evening, including 4-1 on target.

 

2021 C-USA Goalkeeper of the Year and Golden Glove Award winner Jan Hoffelner secured his 10th shutout of the season and his 10th win between the pipes.

 

Friday marked Kentucky’s first win over FIU since Nov. 7, 2015, as well as its second consecutive three-goal outburst in the postseason that avenged a scoreless draw with same opponent in the regular season.

 

The Wildcats ended the regular season with a 3-0 win over Florida Atlantic at home on Nov. 5. The Owls are set to compete in the C-USA Championship final for the first time in program history.

 

Admission to all 2021 UK soccer matches at Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex is free to the public. For the latest on the Kentucky men’s soccer team, follow @UKMensSoccer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as on the web at UKAthletics.com.