#5 UCF Set For AAC Final Against #10 SMU

#10 SMU vs. #5 UCF

November 16, 2019, 7 P.M.


ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The No. 5 UCF men's soccer team is set to host the American Athletic Conference championship match as they'll square off against the No. 10 SMU Mustangs on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

The top seeded Knights will square off with second-seeded SMU for the conference tournament crown and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The two American powerhouses met earlier in the season, playing to a 3-3 draw back on Oct. 6. After seeing no goals scored in the first half, both sides filled up the net in the second stanza. Double overtime would decide nothing as both sides walked away with a point in The American standings.

The championship match represents the first top 10 contest in UCF men's soccer history. It stands as the third contest between two top 10 teams in the school's history, with women's soccer participating in two in 2012. The first time these two teams met this season, UCF was ranked No. 11 while SMU was No. 4.

UCF advanced to the championship match via a 5-0 win over the Temple Owls in their semifinal tilt. Cal Jennings tallied his first hat trick of the season and fourth of his career to help propel the Knights to victory. The five goals stand as the Black and Gold's highest goal total this season and most since they beat FGCU 5-1 back on Oct. 16 of last season. Jennings also had a hat trick in that match.

SMU faced the South Florida Bulls in their semifinal match, and it wound up being closer than expected. The Mustangs scored the first goal of the match but saw the Bulls tie it on a penalty kick. SMU missed a late penalty kick opportunity to send the match to overtime. The Mustangs would go on to win in double overtime to advance to the final.

This is not the first time these two teams have met in The American championship match. In fact, this is the third consecutive meeting between the two sides for the title. SMU has gotten the better of the Knights in 2017 and 2018, with both matches needing extra time. In 2017, the Knights fell to the top seeded Mustangs in overtime by a count of 2-1. That was the first time UCF had been to a conference championship match since 2004. A year later in 2018, the two sides went to penalty kicks after no goals were scored in regulation or in overtime. The Mustangs would find the 5-4 edge in penalty kicks to take the championship and automatic bid. UCF still made the NCAA Tournament in 2018 but missed out in 2017.

The Mustangs enter the match with a record of 15-1-1 with their lone loss coming to Memphis in overtime during the regular season. Garrett McLaughlin leads the team in scoring with 15 goals and 35 points while Knut Ahlander has tallied 11 assists. The Mustangs have scored at least one goal before the half in seven of their regular season games. SMU's primary goalkeeper is Grant Makela who has a 0.98 goals allowed average and a 0.807 save percentage.

The Knights have the No. 7 scoring offense in the country, averaging 2.47 goals per game. SMU averages 3.35 goals per game, good enough for second in the nation. They average 18.1 shots per game while UCF posts about 16.1 per match, placing them ninth in the country. The Black and Gold rank first in the nation in corner kicks per game, averaging exactly eight.

SMU holds a slight edge in the all-time series between the two sides, leading by a count of 6-4-6. The Mustangs have a 2-0-1 advantage in The American tournament against the Knights. UCF has gone 1-1-1 against top 10 teams this season.

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

Never miss any UCF Knights news from your favorite team by downloading the free UCF Knights app right to your iOS or Android phone. The app provides personalized information for men's and women's teams, scores, schedules, loyalty programs and even breaking news. Click here to download the app now.