Nov. 12, 2012
CINCINNATI - The No. 15/14 Xavier men's soccer team earned its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship and will face Kentucky in the first round on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the UK Soccer Complex in Lexington, Ky.
The Musketeers (13-2-5, 6-1-2 A-10) earn a spot in their third-straight straight championship after posting a single-season record for wins and assists.
Xavier has been led by its trio of Atlantic 10 First Team selections all season. Forward Luke Spencer has a team-best 13 goals and seven assists and has been joined up front by midfielder Matt Walker who has 10 goals and a team-best nine assists.
Spencer and Walker are one of two pairs to have 10 or more goals from the same team. Nick Hagglund was named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year and also earned a spot on the A-10 All-Championship Team.
Xavier's first-ever at-large bid came after the Musketeers lost to eventual champion Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 semifinals on Friday.
The Musketeers' offense has been one of the nation's best scoring threats this year. Xavier is seventh in goals per game (2.35), fifth in goals (47), second in assists (55) and third in total points (149). Defensively XU is 41st in the nation in goals against average (0.90).
Xavier's first two trips to the NCAA Tournament came on the heels of back-to-back Atlantic 10 Tournament victories in 2010 and 2011. Both years the Musketeers lost to West Virginia on the road in the first round. Xavier dropped a 4-2 decision in 2010 and lost an overtime affair 2-1 last season.
Thursday's encounter between the Musketeers and Wildcats will be the 11th all-time meeting. Kentucky holds a 7-3 advantage in the series but XU has won three of the last four meetings. Xavier lost the last meeting to then No. 20 Kentucky 1-0 at home in 2009.
Kentucky finished the year with a 10-8-2 overall record, including a 3-4-1 mark home and 6-2-0 record on the road. The Wildcats' season ended with a penalty kick shootout loss in the Conference USA semifinals to SMU.
Tyler Ridge and Matt Lodge lead the Wildcats with seven goals apiece this season. Jacob Kemper has five assists this year for the Wildcats. Jack Van Arsdale is the goalkeeper for the Wildcats and has posted five shutouts on the year.
Kentucky scored 34 total goals on the season while its opponents scored 25. Averaged out, the Wildcats scored 1.70 goals per game this year and gave up 1.25 per game. They outshot their opponents 265-227.
Thursday's game will be streamed live for free. More information regarding tickets will be made available soon on GoXavier.com.