The East Tennessee State University men’s soccer team upended the nationally ranked Kentucky Wildcats at home, 3-1. ETSU was able to move back to 2-2-1 as the Wildcats fell to 2-2-1 on the season. Graduate student James Smith was the player of the game as he netted one goal and picked up an assist in the match.
The first goal of the game went in the ETSU favor in the 19th minute, which was the fastest goal scored this season for the Bucs. Smith netted the go-ahead goal for the Bucs, but sophomore Jeffrey George was able to corral the rebound off an UK defender. George gave the ball to Smith on the left side of the box, and Smith was able to kick it in with his left foot for the goal.
ETSU did not waste much time after scoring their first goal. They were on the attack just five minutes later to score the second goal of the game. This time junior Joao Ramalho netted his second goal of the season in the 24th minute. The Bucs found themselves on the counterattack when Christian Ilia took a long kick from midfield to Ramalho. Ramalho found himself outnumbered, but he was able to get a strong shot off that found the bottom left hand corner.
Kentucky retaliated in the 36th minute when Kristoffer Tollefsen mimicked an Ilia cross from midfield to his teammate Xahne Reid. Reid moved quickly on the left side and beat ETSU goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland to cut the lead in half.
“We came out on fire to start the game because we didn’t want to come out slow like we have our past couple of games,” said head coach Bo Oshoniyi. “We took the tempo early as a team and never let up.”
The Bucs were outshooting the Wildcats at the half 5-4 and had the advantage with 3-2 shots on goal too. Both keepers only had one save at the 45-minute mark as well.
The Buccaneers did not hold back coming out at the half as Smith found himself in the UK box in the 47th minute. He took a strong shot that would have been on goal if it weren’t blocked. Junior Mitchell Cecatiello found the rebound and snuck his shot in the middle of the goal.
Cecatiello’s goal was the final goal of the game as the Bucs and Wildcats fought back and forth for the last 43 minutes of the game.
“We definitely played with fire tonight, and after getting that third goal it felt like it was the “nail in the coffin”,” said Cecatiello. “We were working for each other tonight.”
Kentucky ended the game outshooting the Bucs 11 to eight and tied the Bucs with shots on goal at four. Sutherland came in the clutch on some shots as the Wildcats were able to put two more shots on goal in the second half, but Sutherland saved both attempts.
“We did not have any disappointment coming into the game. We knew we could compete against Kentucky before we touched the field,” said Smith. “We had a great week of preparation, and we used our mental aspect as a team to get the victory tonight.”
ETSU will finish their non-conference schedule on Tuesday, September 22 against the Liberty Flames. The match will be held at Summers-Taylor Stadium at 5 p.m.
Photo and story courtesy of ETSUBucs.com