There’s a new all-time leading scorer for the Kentucky women’s soccer program.
Fifth-year forward Jordyn Rhodes recorded her 44th and 45th career goals for the Wildcats on Friday night, with her two-goal performance spearheading Kentucky to a 2-1 victory over No. 9 Alabama — the defending SEC regular season champions and a national semifinalist last season — at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington.
Rhodes now sits atop the career goals scored list for UK, surpassing Kim LaBelle, who scored 44 for the Wildcats between 1994 and 1997.
Rhodes’ brace Friday night against the Crimson Tide made history in more ways than one.
After Rhodes opened the scoring in the 60th minute with a deflected shot that looped over Alabama goalkeeper Coralie Lallier and in, the Crimson Tide tied the match in the 70th minute.
But when Rhodes connected on a header from a corner kick in the 75th minute to score, it proved to be a decisive moment as UK earned its first ranked win since 2016 and its first victory over a top-10 opponent since 2014.
“When I scored the first one, it didn’t really register with me (about tying the record) until they announced it,” an emotional Rhodes told the Herald-Leader postgame. “... I was just so glad that I (scored the second goal). I wasn’t even thinking about the record, I just wanted to win so bad.”
GOAL - Kentucky women’s soccer takes a 2-1 lead over No. 9 Alabama in the 75th minute, and history is made.
Jordyn Rhodes heads in her 45th goal for @UKWomensSoccer and passes Kim LaBelle as the all-time leading scorer in UK program history. pic.twitter.com/UIT7cblUPW
— Cameron Drummond (@cdrummond97) September 30, 2023
Kentucky, now 7-0-4 overall this season and 1-0-3 in SEC matches, is unbeaten through 11 games for the first time since 2005.
Friday night’s win also marked UK’s first SEC victory under second-year head coach Troy Fabiano. UK previously last won an SEC contest on Oct. 24, 2021.
The Cats are also the only undefeated team left in the SEC in 2023.
Rhodes cements status as Kentucky soccer legend
Rhodes, a 5-foot-8 forward from South Lebanon, Ohio, was originally committed to play college soccer at Indiana, before a coaching change altered her plans and led her to Lexington.
Not only has Rhodes excelled in front of goal across her five seasons of college soccer, but she’s done so for two different coaching staffs.
Rhodes began her UK career playing for head coach Ian Carry, who was fired by UK in October 2021 and replaced by Fabiano.
Rhodes has scored at least six goals in all five of her college seasons.
This includes consecutive 11-goal campaigns for the Wildcats during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Rhodes has also twice scored a hat trick for Kentucky: Against Florida in the SEC Tournament in November 2020 and against Marshall in August 2021. (Cheryl Shimovetz in 1992 is the only other UK women’s soccer player to have recorded multiple hat tricks during her UK career).
Rhodes previously told the Herald-Leader that her first career college goal — scored in UK’s 2019 season opener against Bowling Green — is the one she remembers most vividly.
“I just think that I was so shocked that it went in,” Rhodes said earlier this season. “I don’t remember actually scoring it, but I remember afterward, the celebration, just because I didn’t know what to do. I was a little freshman, it was my first game.”
Plenty of goals have followed since for Rhodes, who scored in each of UK’s first five games this season and now has nine goals for the 2023 season.
“I’m still kind of soaking it in,” Rhodes said Friday night as the new record holder. “I’ve been crying off and on. Emotions are everywhere, but it’s obviously such an amazing accomplishment. I’m so proud of myself, my teammates. Everyone that’s been here.”
Rhodes reached the scoring milestone in front of a lively crowd of 2,041 fans at The Bell, which included UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari and UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart.
Still wearing a dress shirt and tie following Friday night’s induction ceremony for the 2023 class of the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame, Barnhart spent time speaking with Rhodes following UK’s win.
What did Rhodes tell Barnhart in that moment?
“I just told him, ‘Thank you,’” Rhodes said. “I’ve been here for five years and he’s been great. He comes to everything and he’s so supportive. ... I just thanked him for sticking with us.”