#8 UCF Advances to First Sweet 16

NCAA Tournament Bracket Box Score (PDF)

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – Off the strength of a Cal Jennings overtime goal, the No. 8 UCF men's soccer team defeated the No. 12 Missouri State Bears by a score of 2-1 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.

The win advances the No. 9 nationally seeded Knights to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program's 45-year history. The victory also doubled as the first and only loss this season for Missouri State, who end their season at 18-1-1.

"The team was so good tonight," said UCF head coach Scott Calabrese, "I was so proud of the way our guys were able to overcome the setback to begin the game and to take control, be brave and be themselves. I felt we created so many good chances in that game, but any time you play in a big match like this, they're always going to be tight. Such credit to our guys to fight and battle to win in overtime, it's an amazing feeling."

The match started off on the wrong foot for the Knights as Missouri State's Aadne Bruseth pressured the UCF goalkeeper, Yannik Oettl and capitalized off a turnover for an unassisted goal.

From that point on, the Knights controlled the pace of the match. They took advantage of a big rebound that skied into the air and wound up at the feet of Gino Vivi. He lobbed a cross to Yoni Sorokin who headed the ball home in the 28th minute for his fifth goal of the season. Sorokin found his way onto the scoresheet just 23 seconds after subbing into the match.

As the horn sounded at half, the Knights led the shot count 6-2 and had the lone corner in the match. The Black and Gold held 55 percent of the possession through the first 45 minutes.

The Knights dominated play out of the locker room to begin the second half. They kept that momentum going through the remainder of regulation but were unable to find the go-ahead goal. UCF outshot the Bears 11-6 in the second half and earned a 9-2 edge in corner kicks. Six of the Knights' 11 shot attempts were on goal, but Missouri State's goalkeeper Michael Creek stood tall and kept the sheet clean in the second frame.

For the ninth time this season, the Black and Gold headed to overtime as the match was even at 1-1.

It didn't take long to find the golden goal in overtime. Just 42 seconds into the extra period, Oettl unleashed a long pass from his end of the field straight to Vivi. The freshman standout crashed in on the right wing and feed a first-time ball to Jennings, who cashed in on the opportunity.

"It was an exciting play," said Jennings, "We were confident going into overtime, we just had to keep our foot on the pedal. The ball got through to Gino and my eyes kind of lit up. I figured that was the moment, ran in hard and he served a great ball in."

The win makes UCF 7-0-2 in overtime periods this season as Jennings netted his seventh game winning goal of the season which leads the NCAA. The goal also served as Jennings' 17th career game winner which leads all active players. When Jennings scores in a match, the Black and Gold are 11-0-2. He now has 17 goals this season and bumps his career total to 45.

Vivi added two assists tonight, bringing his season total to eight. That puts him in fifth place on UCF's single season assists list. The other assist on the golden goal came from Oettl, who tallies his third career assist and first of the season.

UCF now has a record of 15-2-2 for the 2019 campaign. That win total matches the highest number of victories in a single season with the previous 15 win season coming in 1976. That season was before the Knights were part of Division I and was just their second year of existence.
The Knights will face a familiar opponent as they'll travel to the No. 8 nationally-seeded SMU Mustangs for the Sweet 16. The two teams will play on Nov. 30 or Dec. 1. Keep checking UCF men's soccer social media and website for updates.

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