Aug. 29, 2014
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Ashani Walker's penalty kick equalizer in the 57th minute earned the University of Cincinnati men's soccer team a 1-1 draw at Northern Kentucky in its season opener on Friday night. The Bearcats and Norse played through 110 minutes and a lightning delay to end in a draw for the second consecutive year.
// Walker, The Equalizer
Walker (Kingston, Jamaica/Jamaica College) has developed a flair for the dramatic penalty kicks. Last season, it was an extra time penalty kick at SIU Edwardsville that gave UC a 2-1 victory. This season, he scores from the penalty mark to earn the draw at NKU. Walker was UC's leading scorer last season, netting five goals and adding two assists. It also marked the second straight season Walker was the goal scorer in a 1-1 draw with Northern Kentucky. Last year at Gettler Stadium, Walker scored in the 22nd minute before NKU tied the match in the 76th minute.
// Second Half Pressure
The Bearcats turned up the pressure in the second half. After being outshot by the hosts, 6-1, in the first half, UC was an even 7-7 on shots in the second half before out-shooting NKU, 6-2, in the extra time periods. Dayes was pleased the way his team responded after NKU got on the scoreboard early in the second 45 minutes.
"Once NKU scored, our play improved and we had a good 10-15 minute stretch," Dayes said. "I also thought we created 2-3 good chances in overtime."
// Ready, Set, Draw
It marks the first time since 2003 the Bearcats played to a draw in their season opener. That year, UC actually saw its first three matches end in a tie, starting with a 0-0 draw at Bowling Green. The Bearcats followed that up with a 1-1 draw versus Cal State Northride and a 2-2 draw at New Mexico. Head coach Hylton Dayes actually saw two of his first three season openers end in a draw, including his first match at the helm of the UC program, a 0-0 tie at Western Illinois.
Cincinnati's only tie last season was the 1-1 draw with NKU at Gettler Stadium. The last draw for UC not against the Norse came at DePaul in 2012.
// Moving On
The Bearcats now get set to host Wright State on Monday, Sept. 1, at Gettler Stadium. While Dayes obviously would have preferred a victory, a draw on the road against a very good team is not the worst result.
"Overall, getting a draw on the road isn't the worst thing," he says. "We will take tomorrow to recover and then prepare for Wright State on Monday."
NKU had one of the stingiest defenses in the country last year. Goalkeeper A.J. Fleak, who had five saves tonight, was a second team All-Atlantic Sun selection a year ago with a 0.96 goals against average that helped the Norse play an NCAA-record 11 overtime contests.
// 2014 SEASON TICKETS START AT $10
Season tickets for 2014 can be purchased for as little $10 ($1.25 per match). For more information, visit GoBEARCATS.com/tickets or call 1-877-CATS-TIX. Keep up with the UC men's soccer team @UCMSoccer.