UCF Beats Bulls 3-2 in First War On I-4 Meeting of 2021

Box Score (PDF)

TAMPA, Fla. – The UCF men's soccer team won its fourth straight match and advanced to 3-0-0 in conference with a 3-2 win over South Florida on Wednesday night.

"It was a difficult game as we suspected it would be; the War On I-4 is always tough," said head coach Scott Calabrese. "I think we created a lot of good chances and took our goals well, but USF kept coming back into the game. I think the thing I'm most proud of the group is that they never stopped going. They were resilient and sometimes if you don't have the right mentality, you can lose your concentration and focus but they didn't. The group kept fighting back and kept pushing forward to close the game out."

The first half was dominated by the Knights as chances were abounding early and often. The Knights controlled possession for the majority of the first half hour.

The heavy advantage in possession finally paid off as Kevin Andrews drove down the right side of the pitch and fed a ball on the ground through the box. Lucca Dourado faked a shot on the ball as it rolled by, leaving it for Ariel Hadar who punched it into a wide open net.

The Knights led heavily in shots at the break, holding a 7-1 edge in shot attempts and a 6-0 advantage in corners.

After just one goal going up on the board in the first half, the floodgates opened with a barrage of goals in the first 10 minutes of the second.

The scoring started almost instantly as Hadar earned his second goal of the match in the 48th minute. Dourado forced a turnover at midfield and streaked down the left side toward the 18-yard box. Hadar and Gino Vivi were running with Dourado on the breakaway, and it was Hadar who got the ball in the middle and finished to grab the 2-0 lead.  Hadar tallies his first multi-goal game and career goals number two and three.

That lead didn't stand for long as Oscar Resano found the top right corner off an assist from Donovan Hesselmeyer in the 49th minute.

The Black and Gold cashed in on another breakaway chance in the 52nd minute, as the Knights calmed down a goal kick from South Florida which eventually saw Yanis Leerman play the ball ahead for Dourado. The ball found him in stride and Dourado was able to sprint ahead and calmly finish the chance in the far corner. Dourado's goal was his ninth of the 2021 campaign as he continues to lead the team in scoring.

South Florida tallied a late goal in the 86th minute to get the match to 3-2 as they converted off a corner kick. Victor Claudel found the back of the net after the service by Shion Soga. The Bulls continued to press and nearly found a third goal, had it not been for a tremendous touch over the bar by Tyler Lavigne in goal in the dying moments of the match.

The Knights scored three goals for the fourth straight match and hold their goals per match average at an exact 3.00, which was good enough for a tie of second in the country entering the evening.

The Black and Gold's victory was the 50th in Calabrese's career at the helm of the Knights. Of the six head coaches in the history of the program, four of them now have 50 or more wins. Calabrese looks to catch Bryan Cunningham, who was here before Calabrese, collecting a 59-63-26 record in 10 seasons with the Knights.

UCF has won four of its last five meetings with South Florida, all of the contests finishing with just a single goal separating the two sides.

Wednesday night's men's soccer contest was the first in the 2021 War On I-4 series between the two athletic programs. UCF has won the previous five head-to-head competitions with South Florida. The next contest is women's soccer, which will take place at the UCF Soccer Complex on Oct. 7 at 6 p.m.

The Knights will wrap up their season series with Memphis at home on Sunday at 6 p.m.

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.