Knights Open Conference Play against Memphis Saturday

Sept. 14, 2007

Men's Soccer Notes at Memphis & Boston U. in PDF Format
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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's soccer team returns to the road for the weekend as the Knights (2-2-0) open their 2007 Conference USA schedule at Memphis (2-2-1) on Saturday, Sept. 15 at noon then travel to New England, where they face non-conference opponent Boston University (2-2-0) on Monday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.

The match against the Tigers on Saturday is UCF's fourth contest away from home since the Knights' season began on Aug. 31 at USF. The Knights have gone 2-1 in road games thus far this season and that success prompted the team's recent No. 10 ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) South Region poll. It is the first time since Sept. 6, 2005 that UCF earned a regional ranking.

"It is tough to start off the season with three games in a row on the road, but it is going to help us at the end of the season because a lot of our conference games are on the road," said junior Mike Mattson, who currently leads the Knights offensively with two goals and an assist. "That is the reason, I think, that the coaches made the schedule the way they did."

The Knights are coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss to Stetson in their home opener on Sept. 12, but this season UCF's first-year head coach Bryan Cunningham has made it part of the team's mindset to focus on what lies ahead. Even after the match against the Hatters, Cunningham steered post-game discussions toward the Tigers, a team that is ranked No. 4 in the Midwest Region Poll and received votes in the national poll according to the NSCAA.

"After the game on Wednesday, Coach Cunningham came into the locker room and the first thing he did was talk about Memphis," said Mattson. "Whether you lose or win a game, it's done and we have to focus on what comes next. It's a good system because it doesn't allow us to focus on past outcomes and helps the team concentrate on the next game."

In four previous meetings between the two conference rivals, Memphis holds a 3-1 advantage, but UCF won the most recent match on Oct. 4, 2006. The Knights posted a 1-0 shutout over the then No. 17 ranked Tigers at the UCF Soccer Complex.

Saturday's match is the earliest that UCF has faced a league rival since joining C-USA prior to the 2005 season. During previous two years, the Knights didn't make their league debut until a month into the schedule.

"Facing a conference opponent early gives us the chance to see what we will have to deal with as the season progresses," said Mattson. "I think we are ready for the game against Memphis. We just need to work hard and use what we've learned in practice."

"A conference game is here sooner than we want it here," Cunningham said after Wednesday's match. "They are a good opponent that is playing well right now. We need to be able to match their intensity and be prepared to play in front of the Memphis home crowd. "

The Knights continue their road trip through the weekend, visiting Boston University on a rare Monday night match. The Terriers suffered a 3-0 loss to Santa Clara on Sept. 9 and will meet No. 15 Harvard on Friday, Sept. 14 before hosting UCF. Leading BU's offense are junior Petur Sigurdsson and freshman Daniel Chu with a pair of goals each, while sophomore Hrafn Davidsson has recorded a 1.03 goals-against-average.

UCF and the Terriers have not previously met on the soccer field.

"We have basically focused on Memphis, but Coach Cunningham has talked about the weekend as a whole," Mattson said. "We need to come away with two good results in order to stay ranked in the region."

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