MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The UCF men's soccer team earned a 4-1 victory on the road against Memphis in its first match of American Athletic Conference play this season. Lucca Dourado delivered his second multi-goal performance of the season, rising to the top of the national leaderboard in goals scored in 2021 while Nick Taylor tallied three assists, also climbing to the top of the NCAA DI rankings in total assists this season.
"Conference matches are always a greater challenge with so much on the line," said head coach Scott Calabrese. "We started the match very will, but Memphis never stops and they battled back and tested our group's resilience. I am really proud that we weathered a period where the game became very difficult for us.We just kept working and stuck together and then responded with a third and fourth goal. This was a big step for us and shows how we continue to improve each week."
The scoring got going early as Taylor put a heavy shot on goal, generating a big rebound that was cleaned up by Anderson Rosa as he scored his first goal of the 2021 campaign. With the Knights' 11th minute tally, the Black and Gold have scored in the first 15 minutes in back-to-back matches.
?? CLEAN UP ON ISLE THREE! pic.twitter.com/MpVOlscel1— UCF Men's Soccer (@UCF_MSoccer) September 19, 2021
UCF didn't take long to put another goal on the scoreboard as Dourado capitalized on a short goal kick from Memphis goalkeeper Parker Lackland as he corralled the ball and streaked towards the net in the 17th minute. Dourado absolutely ripped one past the outstretched gloves of Lackland as the sophomore striker collected his sixth goal of the season, good enough for a tie of the nation's lead in goals scored this season.
The Knights dominated in shot attempts through the first 45 minutes as they fired 11 opposed to Memphis' 5. UCF goalkeeper Tyler Lavigne, who made just his second career start on Saturday night, made a trio of saves, holding the Tigers scoreless halfway home.
The clean sheet was wiped away almost instantly out of halftime as a ball trickled across the entire box, unable to be cleared by a Knight, before Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos punched it home just seconds into the second stanza. Play was fairly balanced for the next half hour of match time as neither team could find the back of the net, despite quality chances both ways.
Dourado was able to break that trend in the 78th minute as he found his way onto the scoresheet for the second time in the match. Taylor was charging down the wing, working his way towards the endline before crossing the ball in to Dourado who was able to leap and chest the ball down and in. The goal was Dourado's seventh of the season, making him the nation's leader in goals scored. The multi-goal performance was the second of the season for Dourado and the third of his career.
UCF wasn't done scoring though as Beto Ydrach earned his first career goal with a beautiful header in front. Taylor delivered a perfect ball off a corner kick right to Ydrach for his third assist of the match. Taylor's three helpers mark the 19th time in program history that a Knight has earned three or more assists in a match, becoming the first to do it since 1997. Taylor doubled his assists total on Saturday and now sits at six on the campaign, good enough for the national lead in all of NCAA DI soccer.
At the final whistle, the Knights had compiled an impressive season-high 20 shot attempts with 11 of them landing on target. Memphis finished the contest with 11 total shot attempts with five of them being on goal, meaning that Lavigne earned four saves in his first full match as a member of the Black and Gold. UCF kept it clean on the pitch, compiling a season low in fouls with just six.
The Knights haven't lost to Memphis since October of 2016, going 5-0-1 since then. The Black and Gold pull out to a 14-7-4 all-time series lead against the Tigers and have outscored them 13-4 in their last six meetings.
The Black and Gold will return home to face Temple on Friday, Sep. 24 at 6 p.m. The Owls dropped their conference opener by a count of 4-1 against No. 18 SMU.
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