Kentucky needed 85 minutes to break through, but the wait proved well worth it when Noah Hutchins’ late goal gave the Wildcats their first win since Oct. 8, 1-0 over a quality Ohio State squad on Wednesday at The Bell.
Hutchins’ goal came off some good transition buildup as Keyarash Namjoupanah found the Columbus, Ohio, native atop the box. He dribbled into the box and slotted the ball into the back of the net from about 12 yards.
”Ohio State is a good team and we knew going into it that we had to give it our all and battle for 90 plus minutes,” Hutchins said. “I’m from Columbus so it was nice to get the winning goal against a lot of my friends on this team. It was a good result.
“This was a big result to try and turn around our season around after going through a rough patch.“
He scored his third goal of the season and second from as many matches. Namjoupanah provided the first assist of his career.
Hutchins has looked to be Kentucky’s most dangerous player in the last two matches moving up to his more comfortable winger role after he played the more defensive wing back position most of his senior season. He now has nine career goals, and his three goals this season is tied with JJ Williams and Stefan Stojkovic for the team lead.
Hutchins’ goal came about four minutes after Ohio State’s Xavier Kennedy was sent off for a second yellow card, reducing the visitors to having to finish the last eight minutes down to 10 men.
The prior 80 minutes had played out as a rather tightly-wound affair with neither side making many extended forays forward.
But it was the UK senior finally breaking through against his hometown university after a draw in Columbus his freshman season and a top-25 loss, 1-0 to the Buckeyes at The Bell in 2015.
Indeed his goal was the difference to give the Wildcats a much-needed return to the win column.
UK kept a clean sheet for the first time since Oct. 8, moving to seven shutouts this year.
This will be the 13th time Kentucky (7-5-2, 4-2-0 Conference USA) and Ohio State (7-7-1, 3-4-0 Big Ten Conference) meet on the field. The last meeting was in 2015 in Lexington with Ohio State winning 0-1.
Kentucky moved to 4-5-4 in the all-time series.
UK enters snapped what was its first three-game losing streak since the end of the 2014 season. Ohio State is now winless in its last eight, and has lost seven in a row – although that stretch includes losses to four top-25 teams.
Kentucky improved its 2017 record to won 8, lost 5, drew 2. The Wildcats finished the non-conference portion of their schedule 4-3-2.
Ohio State dropped to 7-8-1.
The next one
Kentucky will celebrate Hutchins alongside his seven other senior teammates prior to Sunday’s match – the last regular season match at The Bell this season – against the Conference USA-leading Florida International.
The Panthers will arrive in Lexington undefeated at 11-0-3 in 2017, and are coming off a win against Old Dominion in what was a showdown between the only two teams that were unbeaten in the league.
Sunday’s match will conclude FIU’s regular season, so they’ll be looking to complete their schedule without a loss.
The Panthers top the C-USA table on 19 points (6-0-1 C-USA). Kentucky is third on the C-USA table with 12 points (4-2-0 C-USA).
UK has two league matches remaining on its schedule.
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