Vivi Nets Golden Goal as UCF Beats UConn 2-1

Box Score (PDF)

HARTFORD, Conn. (UCFKnights.com) – By the strength of another golden goal by freshman Gino Vivi, the No. 11 UCF men's soccer team defeated the UConn Huskies by a score of 2-1 in overtime on Sunday night.

"It is an inexplicable joy to be able to help the team by getting the game winning goal," said Vivi, "Personally, it motivates me that with a single goal, we can win the game and that creates a desire to give it my all."

It was an unusual match from the beginning. Neither team could register a shot attempt until the 16-minute mark. The Knights applied consistent pressure throughout the first half, outshooting UConn by a count of 6-1.

UCF finally found the back of the net with just two seconds to spare on the clock in the first half as Jonas Schmalbach spun a beautiful cross into the box where Cal Jennings was on the scene to head the ball in for his 11th goal of the season. Jonathan Dean fed the ball to Schmalbach on the play, giving him the second assist on the game's first score. The goal puts Jennings in a tie for fourth place on UCF's career goals list with 39.

UConn came out strong in the second half, getting some decent looks in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Their chances only escalated from there, ultimately leading to the Huskies getting a chance for a penalty kick in the 80th minute.

On the penalty kick, Yannik Oettl dove to the correct side and kept the shutout alive and the 1-0 UCF lead intact. However, off the ensuing corner kick, UConn's Jake Dengler found the back of the net to even the match at 1-1 in the 81st minute.

The clock eventually hit the 90-minute mark to send the Knights to their fourth straight overtime match. In the second half, UConn outshot the Black and Gold 12-5. Just one of those 12 shot attempts were on target, and it was the one that equalized the match.

It didn't take long to find the golden goal in overtime as Vivi found his second consecutive golden goal in the 92nd minute. The play unfolded after Gianluca Arcangeli appeared to get fouled, but the play rolled on. UConn took possession, but a high kick on a clearing attempt never made it downfield. Vivi camped under the ball, controlled it and fired it just underneath the crossbar to keep the Knights unbeaten over their last 11 matches.

Vivi's goal was his fourth of the season and second straight goal that gave the Knights a win in extra time. He was able to bury the game winner on a cross from Jennings in the 3-2 victory against Tulsa last week.

The win moves UCF into sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference standings with a record of 3-0-1 (10 points). The Knights are the only team in the conference without a loss and control their own destiny to win the regular season crown and be the top seed in the conference tournament for the second consecutive year.

The victory marked a milestone for UCF as they earned their 300th win as a division I program. Their first ever win at the DI level came against Florida Southern on Sept. 15, 1984. The Knights' 100th victory was over FIU on Oct. 13, 1996 and the 200th win was at the hands of Cincinnati on Sept. 7, 2007. Sunday's win was No. 392 for UCF all-time.

Sunday night's matchup between the two teams was the last time they would meet as American Athletic Conference opponents. UConn is departing the conference at the end of the season. The Huskies hold the current all-time series edge by a count of 7-5-2, but the Knights have gone 5-0-1 in their last six meetings with the Huskies.

The Knights are back in action on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. as they will travel for their War on I-4 matchup with the South Florida Bulls.

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