LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky men’s soccer team will be the No. 3-overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, which starts this week.
The Wildcats received a first-round bye and will play at The Bell on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET against the winner of Thursday’s 7 p.m. ET/4p.m. PT (local) first-round match between UCLA (10-8-0) and Portland (11-3-3) in Portland, Oregon.
Tickets for Sunday’s match are available atUKathleticstix.com.
UK students who show their UK student ID at the tent outside The Bell on match day will receive a ticket paid for by UK Athletics.
“We’ve had a lot of program firsts this year,” Kentucky Head Coach Johan Cedergren said. “It’s just another step for us. It’s nice to be able to see the guys here in a little bit to get training in and then start getting ready. The draw – the way it worked out, there are no ‘easy’ teams in the NCAA Tournament. Whoever we play – Portland or UCLA – it’s going to be one heck of a game on Sunday.
“We’re going to get the guys fired up, ready to go and we’ll see what will happen on Sunday.”
The Wildcats earned the highest seed in school history after a historic regular season, which culminated last Sunday with the Conference USA Tournament Title to go along with the Regular-Season Crown the Wildcats clinched last week.
Kentucky earned the C-USA automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Conference Tournament.
“We’re potentially playing one of the top programs in the country,” senior co-captain Tanner Hummel said. “Whether it’s UCLA or Portland – here at The Bell, I know it’s going to be a huge task for us to get a result.”
UK will go into NCAA Tournament boasting a won-lost-drawn record of 17-1-1.
UK has won seven matches in a row and last Sunday set a new program record for single-season victories.
“These are the games you look forward to,” C-USA Player of the Year JJ Williams said. “These are the games you want to find yourself and your program in. But at the same time, we have to stay humble, continue to work and treat everybody like they’re the best team in the country.”
The Wildcats earned the ninth NCAA Tournament bid in program history, and first since UK was the No. 16 national seed in 2016 – the only other time UK received a first-round bye.
UK reached the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in Head Coach Johan Cedergren’s seven-year tenure.
Kentucky’s best NCAA Tournament finish was a Sweet 16 in 2000.
The Wildcats dropped their most recent NCAA Tournament game, 3-2 to Creighton at The Bell in the second round in 2016.
The last time UK advanced in the NCAA Tournament was in 2003 against Cincinnati on penalties, and UK’s last outright win in the tournament was a 1-0 win against Mercer in 2001.
The NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship has a field of 48 teams. Twenty-three conference champions qualify automatically; the balance of the field was selected at-large by the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee.
NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament games are played at non-predetermined campus sites through the quarterfinal round (which will be Nov. 30 or Dec. 1. The 2018 Men’s College Cup (Final Four) will be held Dec. 7 and 9 in Santa Barbara, California.
GO CATS –