TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Junior Arin Gilliland recorded her second hat trick in the past three Southeastern Conference matches on Sunday afternoon, as the Lexington, Ky.,native scored three first-half goals pacing the No. 23 Wildcats to a 4-2 win over Alabama on Sunday afternoon at the Alabama Soccer Complex.
“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is getting wins on the road,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said. “When wins come on Sunday in our conference, it feels like it’s worth more than three points. This was an extremely exciting game playing against a great Alabama team, and it’s always going to be able to break down a team so well coached. I’m proud of our players fighting through the adversity we faced after a disappointing game on Friday night, and responding and getting three points.”
The game’s first goal came just seven minutes into the match, as Kentucky’s back line was whistled for a handball in the box, resulting in an Alabama penalty kick. The ball came from the far side, and rolled across the chest of a Kentucky centerback, resulting in the referee rewarding the Tide with the PK. The shot was tucked past goalkeeper Kayla King’s right for the 1-0 lead.
Gilliland responded in the 27th minute with her eighth goal of the season as Alabama was called for a foul about 27 yards from goal on the far side, and junior Stuart Pope elected to go for the fast restart. After Caitlin Landis was fouled, Pope quickly distributed the ball to Gilliland, who tucked it far post for the goal, beating the keeper.
Just over 16 minutes later, in the 40th minute, Gilliland connected for the fifth time this season with Pope. Pope got the ball from the midfield and made a dynamic run through the middle of the Alabama defense and served the running Gilliland down the far side. Gilliland then beat the keeper with a juke to her right, and passed it into the back of the net for her second of the match.
Just five minutes after that, Gilliland completed the hat trick, scoring 45 seconds before halftime, as she was the final connecting piece on a series of headers that capped with Gilliland poking it up and over the leaping Alabama keeper. The sequence started with freshman Laura Connor, who made a run down the near side and served the curving, dangerous ball into the box. Connor’s ball was knocked up by Danielle Krohn, which allowed Gilliland enough time to time her run, to finish into the back of the net.
The hat trick for Gilliland is her second in the last three matches, as last Friday night, she scored three times against Tennessee in Kentucky’s 4-1 win over the Lady Vols. Gilliland now has 10 goals on the season, and is tied with Pope for the team lead in that category.
Pope notched her 10th goal of the season in the 85th minute to put the game on ice, as freshman Zoe Swift got end line on a ball that was played into the frontline from Landis. Swift then served the ball back across the face of goal and Pope cleaned it up finishing for her 10th goal of the season, to make it 4-2, where the game would close.
The win puts Kentucky 12-3-1 and 6-2-0 in the SEC for the season.
The Wildcats have three games remaining, including the next match on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET with Missouri at the UK Soccer Complex to kickoff senior weekend at the UK Soccer Complex.