UK Men’s Soccer falls in NCAA Sweet 16

Kentucky men’s soccer (15-1-5, 5-0-3 Sun Belt) ended its 2022 campaign with a heartbreaking 1-2 Sweet 16 loss to Pittsburgh (11-4-5, 3-2-3 ACC) on Sunday at The Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.
Photo Courtesy: Grace Bradley|UK Athletics
Photo Courtesy: Grace Bradley|UK Athletics(UK Athletics)
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 10:10 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky men’s soccer (15-1-5, 5-0-3 Sun Belt) ended its 2022 campaign with a heartbreaking 1-2 Sweet 16 loss to Pittsburgh (11-4-5, 3-2-3 ACC) on Sunday at The Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.

After receiving the top overall No. 1 seed for the first time and first-round bye, Kentucky made history as the only undefeated NCAA Division I men’s soccer program in the nation up until this point. Sunday’s defeat was preceded by an unbeaten regular season, resulting in the Sun Belt Conference Regular Season title, and a victorious conference tournament with the Cats winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament trophy.

“I think it’s a really tough day with the way it ended,” Head Coach Johan Cedergren said. “We’ve had some time to reflect, so of course, incredibly disappointed to be out at this stage, but I thought we played really well today. We are so incredibly proud of the team and incredibly proud of the season, but at the same time, incredibly frustrated.”

Sophomore Casper Grening was able to get UK on the scoreboard with a goal in the 52nd minute. His successful shot earned his 11th goal of the season. Grening finished his second year as the program’s leading goal scorer. He was assisted by senior Nick Gutmann who finished the year with 19 total assists. He currently leads the nation in Total Assists and Assists per Game.

However, Pitt answered with a goal of its own scored by Valentin Noel in the 54th minute. Down a man due to a red card issued in the 79th minute, Bertin Jacquesson scored the game-winner with three minutes left in regulation.

Pittsburgh began its postseason journey falling to Virginia, 0-1 in the ACC Conference Tournament, but received a bid for the NCAA Tournament where the Panthers defeated Cleveland State 2-1 in Pittsburgh. To advance to the Sweet 16, the Panthers defeated No. 16 Akron, 3-0 in Ohio. The Panthers have now defeated No. 1 Kentucky to advance to the quarterfinals.

Sunday’s contest was the first between Kentucky and Pittsburgh, which began a new all-time series record for the two programs that is now 0-1-0.

“The Big Blue Nation was a huge part of what we’ve done this season and the reason for our success,” Cedergren stated. “Just a huge thank you to every one of you.”