LEXINGTON, KY. – Bailey Rouse’s 82nd-minute goal sent the No. 3-seeded Kentucky men’s soccer team into the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time in school history as the Wildcats defeated Lipscomb 2-1 in a wild Saturday night showdown before 1,939 fans at The Bell.
Jason Reyes opened the scoring after neither team could finish any of the many chances at both ends through the first 75 minutes.
But Logan Paynter equalized for the Bisons 22 seconds later, but Rouse chested in a brilliant Marcel Meinzer free kick at the back post to give UK the edge it needed just seven minutes after the two teams traded goals.
Kentucky will play No. 11-seed Maryland next weekend at The Bell with match day and time to be announced by the NCAA on Sunday. The game will either be Friday or Saturday.
Kentucky improved its program-record won-lost-drawn record to 19-1-1 on the season.
Reyes scored for the eighth time in this his freshman season. Rouse, a sophomore, scored for the second time in his career, with both goals having come this month at The Bell.
Meinzer assisted both goals with Nicolai Fremstad getting a second assist on Reyes’ opener.
Kentucky is 12-0 at The Bell in 2018 having scored 32 and conceded 2.
UK is 3-0 against teams they met for the second time this season, having also defeated Marshall and Charlotte the second time around in the C-USA Tournament.
Lipscomb’s Cinderella run ended after they won road matches at No. 25 Washington and No. 14-seed UCF last week. The Bisons ended the season 10-10-1 overall with two losses to UK.
Lipscomb earned its spot in the NCAA Tournament field by winning the ASUN Conference at home.
“We were able to win 3-2 in overtime (at Lipscomb) earlier this fall and it was a very similar game this time around,” Cedergren said. “So incredibly proud of my guys for embracing the battle and the grind and respecting the opponent, and keeping (on) working. You can’t forget, just looking at the starting lineup, we had nine underclassmen start today.
“This was a first for us as a program to be able to get to a quarterfinal game at home. So I think that some of the shakiness or some of the nerves that came out in this game have to do with things that we’ve never done before. One of the things we’ve talked about all season is, ‘okay, now this week can we get better?’ I think again being able to get through a game like tonight with a win – even though we maybe didn’t play at 100 percent – shows how good of a team we have.”
The two sides have played four times over the past three years and UK now leads the all-time series 2-1-1.
UK won earlier this year 3-2 in Nashville in overtime, Lipscomb won 3-2 at The Bell last October and they drew 1-1 in 2016 in Lexington.
UK improved to 1-1-1 against Lipscomb at The Bell all-time.
UK is making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in its history, and is 3-8-2 all-time in The Big Dance.
UK is 2-4-1 at home all-time in the NCAA Tournament with both wins this year.
The Wildcats lost their only other appearance in the Sweet 16 in 2000.
UK is in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in Head Coach Johan Cedergren’s seven-year tenure.