토스카지노 “The last game of the regular season” or “the game that could decide the overall championship” are not enough. It’s a soccer match where some people play for their lives. With the game expected to be fiercely contested, STN X SPORTS KU brings you the information you need to immerse yourself in the game. Let’s take a look back at the 23-season journey of KU and Yonsei, and see how the soccer match will end the regular season.
■Review: A look back at the 2023 season between KU and Yonsei
KU and Yonsei’s journey to the 2023 season began with the Chungeun League. Held in Tongyeong, the 59th Spring University Football League was divided into Hansan Daechae and Tongyeong, with KU participating in Hansan Daechae and Yonsei participating in Tongyeong. The Spring League is the first tournament that university teams participate in every year, and it allows them to check their team’s condition at the beginning of the season.
Korea University before the penalty shootout between Jeju International University and Korea University in the quarterfinals. Photo┃SPORTS KU DB
○’Penalty shootout winner’ Korea University
In the first match of the group stage, Korea University met newcomer Cheongwoon University and got off to a great start with a 7-0 victory thanks to a debut goal by freshman Ahn Hyuk-joo (Chekyo 23). In the next match against Sungkyunkwan, the team exchanged goals in quick succession, but a lapse in concentration in the second half resulted in a 2-3 loss. Needing three points to advance in the tournament, the team won the third match against Suwon University 2-1 with a multi-goal performance from Kim Ki-hyun, securing a second-place finish in the group and advancing to the round of 22.
KU has seen all of its tournament matches go to penalty kicks. Although overtime was not required by the tournament rules, it could have put pressure on the players. Under these circumstances, KU won repeated penalty shootouts with the help of goalkeeper Hwang Jae-yoon, and advanced to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinal match against Jeju International University, Korea University scored the first goal and took the lead, but after conceding the equalizer, another penalty shootout was held, and Korea University’s journey ended with a 3-4 loss.
Yonsei University before the start of the third group stage match against Jeonju National University. Photo courtesy of Yonsei University sports magazine Sisbumba
Yonsei University: ‘Solid focus led to the final’
Yonsei won 3-2 against Daejeon University in the debut match of head coach Choi Tae-ho, who made his official debut as head coach. In the second round of the group stage, they faced Dongyang University and won 5-1 to secure an early exit from the tournament. Ha Jae-min (Yonsei 21), who played as a stopper, scored in both the first and second games and emerged as a ‘goal-scoring defender’. In their final game, Yonsei won their third straight match with a 3-0 victory over Jeonju Jeonbuk-dae to finish first in the group.
Yonsei defended a one-goal lead in every game until the tournament’s quarterfinals to advance to the final. It was a result of the concentration of the defense, which kept the lead and prevented any additional goals through solid defense until the end. In the final against Hannam University, the score was 1-2 in extra time before Lee Seung-min (Yonsei 23) scored a dramatic equalizer to send the game to penalty kicks. However, they lost 3:5 in the penalty shootout, and Yonsei finished as runners-up.
After finishing the first tournament of the 23rd season as runners-up and reaching the quarterfinals, KU and Yonsei met in the U League 1 Zone 1. The U League is a competition established by the Korea University Football Association to revitalize school soccer, and is played in a home-and-away league format divided into regions. After the end of the U League, the top three teams in each zone gather to play the King of Kings.
Bang Woo-jin catches the ball during the U-League match against Sun Moon University. Photo┃SPORTS KU reporter Kim Min-ju
Korea University’s ‘Winless Streak’
Korea University had a difficult first half of the season that didn’t live up to its title as the reigning U-League champions. In the first round of the U-League, the team faced Yonsei University and won 1-0. However, the team went on to win seven games, draw four and lose three, bringing home only four points. They were unable to overturn a one-point deficit in all of their losses, and their goal-decision performance was disappointing as they drew four games. In the ninth game against Sun Moon University, the team scored in bunches to take a 4-3 victory to close out the first half. Despite their lackluster first half, they still have plenty of room to rebound considering they’ve played two fewer games than the other teams and their star striker Sung Jin-young (Chegyo 22) is set to return from injury.
Looking at individual performances in the first half, it was notable that central defender Kwon Yong-seung played the full time in every game, switching between center back partners. In the forward line, Lee Ji-ho also played a full game. Lee took over the captain’s armband from Kim Soo-hyun (Chekyo 20) and led the team, scoring five goals to lead KU’s offense.
Yonsei’s Park Gun-hee in the U-League match against Jeonju University. Photo courtesy of Yonsei University sports magazine Sisbumba
Yonsei University’s ‘Perfect Rebound’
Yonsei’s highly anticipated start to the U-League after finishing as runners-up in the Spring League was not smooth. Yonsei had a shaky start, losing three straight games against Chung-Ang University in the first game and Korea University in the third game. However, the team rebounded perfectly with a record of five wins, one draw, and two losses in eight games, including three straight wins from the fourth game onward. In their last match against Korea University at Yonsei Stadium, they won 2-1 and finished the first half in a completely different mood than their last loss to Korea University.
Goalkeeper Choi Kang-seo played the entire game despite being a freshman. Choi contributed to Yonsei’s rebound with his steady saves, including his ability to cover large areas on the opponent’s counterattack. On offense, Kang Min-jae scored six goals to become the second-leading scorer in the U-League 1 Zone 1. Kang Min-jae led Yonsei’s offense in the first half of the game with his incredible goal-scoring prowess, including a hat trick in the 10th match against Jeonju University.
The first irregular match at Nokji Stadium. Photo┃SPORTS KU Reporter Yoo In-jung
◇First irregular match
On March 31, Korea University and Yonsei University, both in the U-League 1 Zone 1, met for the first time. It was the first time the two teams met in an official match since the last regular season game. Korea University pushed Yonsei hard from the start. In the 11th minute, Lee Ji-ho wasted no time in volleying a bound ball from inside the penalty box, leaving Yonsei goalkeeper Choi Kang-seo no chance. As KU took the lead, rough tackles were exchanged, and Sung Jin-young, who had returned after a good performance at the U20 Asian Cup, was substituted due to injury and appeared to choke back tears.
Yonsei brought on Jin Eui-jun at the start of the second half to try and turn the tide. Yonsei gradually began to dominate in the midfield and threatened KU repeatedly as they looked to make up for the goal. However, KU remained focused by maintaining a solid back four, and KU goalkeeper Hwang Jae-yoon came to the rescue at key moments, including saving a shot from Park Gun-hee (Yonsei 22) that could have been a goal. Afterward, Yonsei’s one-sided attack and KU’s fast-paced offense were repeated, but neither team was able to score another goal.
Lee Ji-ho of Korea University soccer team. Photo┃SPORTS KU DB
Q&A with final goal scorer Lee Ji-ho
Q: You scored the game-winning goal in the first non-conference match to lead your team to victory. How do you remember that moment?
A: The moment I shot, I felt like the world stopped. When I saw the ball go into the goal, I was dazed and then I realized, ‘I did it’. A lot of my classmates were there, so the atmosphere in the stadium was amazing.
Q: This is the second regular season game for you personally. How do you feel about it?
A: I want to win so badly, and I will play for my life that day. In life, bitterness can be a good experience later on, but on that day, there should be no failures. I will definitely show you the result.
Q: On days when captain Kim Soo-hyun is absent, you wear the captain’s armband and fulfill that role. Do you personally feel any different when you play with the captain’s armband?
A: Being the leader of the team is a responsibility. I try to go the extra mile and give my teammates a little extra advice. I want to be a leader so that my teammates can follow me by playing well. I don’t feel pressure because I’m an easy-going person.
Q: If you manage to score in a regular match, do you have any celebrations planned?
A : I have a friendship ring with my best friend of 13 years, but I can’t wear it because of the rules of the game, so I play with it taped to my finger. I want to do a ring celebration where I kiss it, and there’s one more thing I want to do, and that’s a celebration where I tear off an eagle’s wing.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for the upcoming matches?
A : I want to prepare hard and grow personally to bring good results, and I hope that many of my classmates will fill the stadium.
The second non-regular match at Yonsei University Stadium. Photo┃SPORTS KU DB
◇Second irregular match
After the last match at Nokji Stadium, the two teams clashed once again at Yonsei University Stadium. From the start of the first half, both teams continued their fierce offense. Yonsei threatened KU’s goal as if they wanted to avenge their last loss. It was Yonsei who succeeded in scoring the first goal. In the 43rd minute, Jang Hamin (Yonsei 20) intercepted the ball from a high position through pressure and attempted to shoot, but the ball deflected off a defender and into the goal. Goalkeeper Hwang Jae-yoon, who continued to make good saves to keep Yonsei’s offense at bay, was caught in the middle of the action and could only watch.
However, KU got the game back on track early in the second half. Kim Ki-hyun sent in an early cross from the right side that Lee Ji-ho was able to head home for the equalizer. With the score tied, both teams actively used substitutions in their offense to take the lead. Yonsei continued to pound the KU goal and eventually succeeded in taking the lead. In the 40th minute, KU’s defense cleared the ball out of the penalty box and Jang Hyun-bin (KU23) headed it into the back of the net.
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