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Battle with the Bearcats
November 02, 2017
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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Despite a tough start to the season, UCF can accomplish one of its goals under first-year head coach Scott Calabrese at Cincinnati on Saturday by earning a berth into The American Championship on Nov. 10-12.

A victory by the Knights, who are on a six-match unbeaten streak, clinches a spot in the top four of the league standings, while a tie could be enough with some help from their conference foes.

The match at Gettler Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, is set to start at 7 p.m. Fans can follow the contest with video and live stats.

ABOUT THE KNIGHTS
  • The Knights (6-5-2) are on a six-match unbeaten streak after earning victories against FAU (3-0), No. 22 UConn (3-2), Tulsa (3-0), Florida Atlantic (3-0) and Temple (1-0) and notching a 1-1 (2OT) draw vs. Memphis.
  • With a victory against the Bearcat, UCF will finish in the top four of the conference standings and advance to The American Championship on Nov. 10-12 at the site of the regular season champion.
  • For the third week in a row, UCF earned The American Offensive Player of the Week as Matias Pyysalo received his second honor after scoring the game-winning goal vs. Temple and adding a marker vs. FAU.
  • Andreas Steineger also was recognized as the league's defensive player of the week after helping UCF post consecutive shutouts.
  • Sophomore Matthew Rosenberg notched his third shutout of the season and the fifth of his career by making two saves vs. Temple.
  • Pyysalo ranks among the nation's leaders in points (4th/2.08), goals (6th/0.85) and assists (63rd/0.38) per game.
  • The second five-point match of the year for Cal Jennings, the reigning American Offensive Player of the week, helped UCF post a 3-2 win at No. 22 UConn.
  • UCF used three second-half goals, including two by Matias Pyysalo to power past Tulsa, 3-0, on Oct. 15.
  • UCF was the 204th out of 205 schools that play men's soccer to appear in a home match. UCF won its home opener, 4-0, vs. Stetson on Oct. 4 after opening the campaign with seven matches on the road.
  • Junior Jonathan Dean was named The American Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11 after helping the back line to consecutive road shutouts at WVU and Jacksonville.
ABOUT THE BEARCATS
  • Cincinnati (7-8-1) has recorded non-conference wins against Gardner-Web (3-1), IUPUI (2-1), Kentucky (1-0), Bowling Green (3-1), Green Bay (2-0), Fort Wayne (4-0) and Cleveland State (2-1).
  • The Bearcats are still searching for their first league result, but have played one-goal matches vs. UConn (1-0), Temple (2-1) and Tulsa (1-0).
  • Pacing the Bearcats in scoring is David Sanz with six goals and five assists, while four markers each have been tallied by Sean Clarke, Darryn Commissiong and Austin Smythe.
  • Cincinnati has used a goalkeeping tandem in Noah Lawrence and Pearce Skinner which has combined for a 1.54 goals against average and .750 save percentage along with a 7-8-1 mark.
SERIES HISTORY VS. CINCINNATI
  • UCF holds an unblemished 5-0-0 mark against the Bearcats.
  • The Knights are 2-0-0 in matches played in Orlando, 2-0-0 on the road and 1-0-0 at neutral sites.
  • The last time the teams met at Cincinnati, Matias Pyysalo netted the lone goal in the 58th minute to help UCF in 2015.
  • Last year, Pyysalo also scored the only goal of the contest in the seventh minute in a 1-0 victory vs. the Bearcats.
THE FINNISH FINNISHER
  • Senior Matias Pyysalo was tabbed as The American Preseason Offensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches.
  • He tallied a natural hat trick, scoring the final three goals at Jacksonville. It was the first hat trick of his career and the first by a Knight since Deshorn Brown (currently with DC United) accomplished the feat vs. Memphis (10/24/12).
  • In the first seven matches, Pyysalo scored five of the seven goals by the Knights.
  • Pyysalo ranks among the nation's leaders in points (5th/2.09), goals (8th/0.82) and assists (43rd/0.45) per game.
  • The Helsinki, Finland, native tallied six of his 10 goals in conference play in 2016.
  • The 2016 American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year paced the league with 14 points and delivered game-winning goals vs. SMU (10/1), UConn (10/22) and Cincinnati (11/5).
  • He has totaled 29 goals and 19 assists in his career as a Knight. The 29 goals puts him in a tie for fifth on the all-time list with Mark Lamb (1984-87). Next on the list is Rony Francois (1980-83) with 39 goals.
  • The 77 total points by Pyysalo is tied for fifth on the career charts with Nik Robson (2009-2011). The next player on the list if Rony Francois (1980-83) with 101 points.
STEPPING UP
  • The first five matches were tough with all four of their goals being scored in a 4-0 win at Jacksonville. The draw against No. 14 West Virginia was the first result earned by UCF vs. a Top 25 since a 2-2 2OT draw at No. 24 UConn (10/5/13).
  • The start of conference play sparked the Knights in a pair of hard-fought road defeats to USF (3-2 2OT) and SMU (2-1)
  • UCF held leads in both matches, but was unable to finish off its opponents.
  • Back home, UCF posted a 4-0 victory over Memphis to boost its confidence, then played a 1-1 2OT draw vs. Memphis.
  • An all-around effort aided UCF to a 3-0 victory against physical Tulsa squad.
  • Cal Jennings quieted a capacity crowd at No. 22 UConn with a goal in the third minute, then tallied the game-winner to propel UCF to a 3-2 win.
  • In a pivotal matchup in the conference standings against Temple, Pyysalo left his mark on Senior Knight with a goal off a counter attack in the 50th minute to lift UCF, 1-0.
  • The Knights have scored 17 goals in the eight-game stretch and found scoring from Matias Pyysalo (8), Cal Jennings (6), Ricardo Oliveros (1), Yoni Sorokin, Gorka Aperribay and Andreas Steineger (1).
CALLING ON CALABRESE
  • Head coach Scott Calabrese is in his first season guiding the Knights.
  • He spent the past three seasons at FIU, taking the program to its first NCAA Tournament in 10 years.
  • The Newton, Conn., native has compiled an 85-67-20 overall mark and started the program at East Tennessee State in 2008.
  • Calabrese has an experienced staff in Will Clayton, who played and coached at Wake Forest, and Paul Souders, who played for Calabrese at Clemson and coached at New Mexico.
NEXT UP
  • With a victory, the Knights will earn a spot in The American Championship at the site of the regular-season winner.
  • The semifinal are slated for Nov. 10, while the championship match is on Nov. 12.
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