PHILADELPHIA – The UCF men's soccer team won its American Athletic Conference opener in dominating fashion, defeating Temple by a score of 4-0 on the road to improve to 4-1 on the season with four straight victories.
"The guys were exceptional tonight," said head coach Scott Calabrese. "From the first whistle to the end, they gave everything."
The Knights were peppering the Owls from the start, jumping out to a 3-0 edge in shot attempts within the first 11 minutes. Just after the clock hit the 12-minute mark, Robbie Soronellas found some magic in his right foot. Gino Vivi was able to strip a defender and get a pass off to Soronellas, who wound up and fired a knuckler from long range and tucked the ball just inside the post. It was a magnificent goal from way out and represented Soronellas' first goal as a Knight in his second season after transferring in from North Florida.
The 27th minute saw UCF double its lead, as a quick outlet pass from Maël Haise found the foot of Vivi up ahead, who drove into the box and fed a ball across to a charging Lucca Dourado, who made one touch and buried the opportunity. It was the second assist of the contest for Vivi, marking the fourth time of his career he has done so. The last time he picked up a pair of assists was also against Temple back on Sep. 24 of last season.
At halftime, the Knights had an 8-5 lead in shot attempts. The real difference was shots on target, which UCF led 5-1 at the break.
Shot attempts were even in the second half through the first 35 minutes, with each side tallying three apiece. Things started to open up again for the Knights in the final 10 minutes as Lucas Mauro put a quality chance on frame in the 81st minute and was denied by Temple's goalkeeper.
Mauro wasn't done though, as UCF's next trip down the pitch resulted in a remarkable strike from the Brazilian who banked one off the bar and down into the net from far out at the 83-minute mark.
The Knights scored again a minute and 27 seconds later to set a new season high with four goals. Dourado earned his second brace of the season thanks to a couple of magnificent passes. Kevin Andrews passed the ball off to Mauricio Villalobos Vega who flicked it on immediately to Dourado who was able to convert on the first-time chance.
Dourado's second score of the contest brought him to 22 career goals, putting him one goal shy of a tie of 10th place on UCF's career goals list. Dourado has scored two goals in two straight contests, netting a pair of first half goals at UC Irvine and scoring one in each half in the Knights' conference opener. It is the fifth two-goal game of Dourado's career.
The scoreboard at the final whistle revealed massive advantages for UCF in multiple important categories, including a 16-10 edge in shot attempts with a massive 11-2 advantage in shots on target. The Knights committed just four fouls in the contest, which will only improve on their seven fouls per game mark which ranked fourth fewest nationally entering the match.
Juanvi Muñoz recorded two saves on the night and earned his second clean sheet of the season.
Villalobos extended his point streak to four straight matches, tallying another assist on a Dourado goal, the third such occurrence this season. Villalobos tallied a goal in the team's first win of the season, a 2-1 victory over North Florida before earning two assists against UC Riverside and one at UC Irvine. Vivi has also been on the scoresheet in four consecutive matches, tallying assists against North Florida and UC Irvine and a goal against UC Riverside.
The Knights now lead the all-time series over Temple by a count of 9-2-2. UCF has been victorious in nine of the last 11 meetings, outscoring the Owls 27-4 over that span. The Black and Gold haven't lost to Temple since 2018 and have now won the last seven contests.
UCF will be back in action next Saturday, visiting Memphis for an 8 p.m. kickoff. The Tigers won their conference opener with a 1-0 victory at home against SMU.
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