ORLANDO, Fla. – The UCF men's soccer team earned a 2-1 victory on Saturday evening, it's first home win of the 2020-21 season. The triumph goes down in the record books as the 400th win in program history.
"Any highly successful team wins at home, that was the message we said to the team before the match," said head coach Scott Calabrese. "It felt great for the guys to be able to deliver on that. For us to be more defensively sound in the first 15 minutes of the match tonight was really big."
The first fifteen minutes have been the deciding factor in each of the Knights' five matches so far. UCF is now 2-0 when not allowing a goal in the first segment of the match; they came in 0-3 when allowing a goal in the first fifteen.
The Knights came out strong in tonight's first fifteen minutes, tallying a shot attempt and earning four corners. Memphis committed five fouls during that time, giving the Black and Gold a chance to run their game plan.
UCF's pressure finally cracked the tigers in the 18th minute. Anderson Rosa drove in from the left wing and fed a beautiful ball to Hattabiou Barry who got a shot on target which was saved a charging Parker Lackland. On the rebound, Andrew Lizyness was going for the loose ball and got fouled in the box as he was tripped up by Memphis' Luke Biasi, resulting in a penalty kick for the Knights. Yoni Sorokin lined up at the spot and scored from the spot to give his squad the 1-0 lead.
UCF held a slight edge in shot attempts through the first 45 minutes of the match, leading the Tigers 6-4. Matt Douglass started in net for the Knights for the second straight match and tallied a pair of saves in the first frame.
Memphis didn't get the start to the second half that they were looking for as Ntezey Swalita was shown his second yellow card of the match in the first 10 minutes. The double yellow resulted in a red card and he was disqualified from the remainder of the match. With the Tiger blunder, UCF got the chance to play up a man for the remainder of the evening.
It didn't take long for the Knights to capitalize as they struck again five minutes later. UCF worked the ball from left to right across the top of the 18-yard box before Ariel Hadar crossed it all the way back left to Barry, who made a couple of moves and sent it right through the box again. Hadar was waiting on the other end of it and punched it home to go up by two.
Mind blowing cross leading to the goal ?? pic.twitter.com/RaEhmEpczB— UCF Men's Soccer (@UCF_MSoccer) March 7, 2021
The Knights added another three shot attempts and had a number of scoring chances following their second goal of the evening but couldn't add anything else to the scoreboard. Memphis however, capitalized on a chance from a free kick in the 86th minute, lobbing a ball into the box that was initially headed away but was collected by Maliek Howell who finished the chance to bring the Tigers back within one.
Multiple milestones were hit in Saturday evening's match. UCF earned its 400th win in program history, a monumental achievement 46 seasons in the making. Douglass earned his first career victory in goal for the Knights and picked up three saves along the way. Rounding out the accolades was Hadar tallying his first career goal.
UCF moves to 12-7-4 all-time against Memphis and are unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Tigers. The previous 13 contests between the two sides have been decided by a goal or less.
The Knights will face their toughest test of the season as they are set to visit No. 2 SMU next Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. The Mustangs were out to a 3-0 start to their season but lost on Saturday night to Temple by a score of 2-0.
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