#15 Knights Blank VCU 2-0

Box Score (PDF)

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – Friday the 13th proved to be nothing but good luck for the No. 16 UCF men's soccer team as they earned their first clean sheet of the season, blanking the VCU Rams 2-0. The Knights wrap up their first homestand of the season unbeaten, going 2-0-1 over their last three matches.

"It was a tough match for us again," said UCF head coach Scott Calabrese, "It was 1-0 until the very end, but I thought the guys did a good job. We kept possession, we were patient for the most part, moved the ball around. We were able to ride that first goal for the duration of the match. I think it was a good performance in the first half, but I think the performance in the second half was better. We played with more energy, effort and aggressiveness in the second half and that was important."

UCF's night began with a Cal Jennings goal in the 15th minute as he had to work his way through three Ram defenders to upgrade his shot. The goal came off a beautiful feed from Yoni Sorokin near midfield. Sorokin was credited with the assist, his third in the last four matches.

"It was a great ball by Yoni; I was able to compose myself and then put it on frame," said Jennings, "It started on my left foot and the angle wasn't great so I knew I had to cut it back a bit. I thought the defenders did a great job of moving with me so I felt like I had to take another touch and by that time I was more central to the goal and had a lot to shoot at and slipped it through somehow."

It seems that Jennings has made a habit of scoring early in matches. Through the last three matches, Jennings has scored in the first 15 minutes each time. He netted tonight's goal at the 14:18 mark, buried his goal against UTRGV in the third minute and scored one of his two goals against Penn State at the 14:17 clip. Jennings' goal tonight was his fifth of the season as he is averaging a goal a game to start 2019.

The Knights continued to pressure VCU follwing the goal, peppering the Rams with 10 shot attempts in the first half. Only four of those attempted shots were on target, one of them resulting in the Jennings goal. UCF outshot the Rams 10-2 through the first 45 minutes.

The second half saw more of the same as the Knights sent a total of 12 shots in the direction of VCU's goalkeeper. UCF's defense was just as impressive as the amount of shots the Knights posted, keeping the Rams off balance for the entirety of the match.

VCU had a chance near the end of the match as the seconds were dwindling off the board. A scrum in front of UCF's net ensued and a few VCU players threw their hands up in disbelief, wanting desperately for the officials to call a foul. No whistles blew, as Jonas Schmalbach booted the ball deep from inside his own box. Jennings was waiting for the ball deep down the field and took the ball while fending off two Ram defenders to try and create a last second opportunity. He was able to shake free for just a moment, dumping the ball off to his right where Canadian freshman Jeremy Di Lallo was waiting. With just four seconds left on the clock, Di Lallo was able to chip the keeper for his first career goal.

"I'm very proud, but I feel like the team did so much work throughout the match," said Di Lallo, "My goal just topped off a great night for the team."

UCF earned their first clean sheet of the season, all without an official save from goalkeeper Yannik Oettl. Even though no save was recorded, he had a few dangerous plays in front of him that he was able to knock away.

"I feel like we've leaked goals at times when we've dominated matches and held a lot of possession, we still allowed goals," said Calabrese, "This is the first time getting a clean sheet this season and I would love for us to keep that trend going."

The UCF defense held VCU to just two shot attempts the entire match as the Knights dominated in the shots category 22-2. Just five of those UCF shots were on target, with two finding the back of the net. The Rams didn't have a corner kick for the entirety of the match and were held without a shot in the second half. VCU has scored just one goal through four games while the Knights hold their average of two goals per match.

"I think the shot total shows more where we were playing," said Calabrese, "We played a lot of the game in their half and trying to get to that final third. They were really compact and difficult to break down so it wasn't always a great opportunity that we were able to generate."

The win brings UCF to 3-1-1 so far in 2019. After dropping the opening match against No. 4 Wake Forest, the Knights have gone unbeaten. They'll look to take that momentum into their next match against a ranked FGCU team.

The Knights will travel south to visit No. 14 FGCU on Wednesday Sep. 18 at 7 p.m. The Eagles have played well to start the year, knocking off No. 13 Michigan with a 4-3 win on the road and tying No. 7 Michigan State in their first two matches.

Season and single match tickets for the 2019 men's soccer season are available now. To catch every moment on the pitch this year, click here.

Follow UCF Men's Soccer on social media on Facebook (/UCFMensSoccer), Twitter (@UCF_MSoccer) and Instagram (@UCF.MSoccer).