ORLANDO – The UCF men's soccer team improved to 2-0 at home this season thanks to its 3-0 victory on Monday afternoon over UC Riverside.
"I think when you look at the game, I think we were able to do a lot of things we wanted to do," said head coach Scott Calabrese. "We were able to possess the ball and control the game. Really proud of the guys who come off a difficult situation with that FGCU match, with the weather and the game starting and stopping, that was tough. For us to come back today and get our focus back and put in a really good effort is good to see. It's moving in the right direction every single week, we have a lot of new players and to see them start to have a better understanding of how we want to play is really good."
The Knights applied pressure right from the opening whistle and registered a shot just past the five-minute mark. On the ensuing goal kick, UC Riverside turned over the ball as AJ Seals went up and won a jump ball. Gino Vivi settled it down and dished it off to Mauricio Villalobos Vega. Villalobos in turn gave it back to Vivi in stride who cashed in with a strike to the far side of the goal.
The Black and Gold carried the 1-0 lead into the break, but only had a slight 8-7 advantage in shot attempts. UCF freshman goalkeeper and American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week Juanvi Muñoz came up big for his side, making four saves including a quality chance on a quick break from the Highlanders.
It took just two minutes and 48 seconds for the Knights to score after kicking the ball off for the second half. Emmanuel Bam had a nice feed up the pitch to Villalobos, who crashed the net and dumped the ball off for Lucca Dourado who was unmarked right at the goalmouth.
Twenty minutes later, the Knights tallied their final goal of the match as Josiah Ramirez applied some pressure and wound up finding a loose ball in the box. He drove towards the net and converted for his second career goal.
The Knights finished the contest with 18 total shot attempts, the most since this season and since the team had 21 against Memphis in the American Athletic Conference semifinals on Nov. 10, 2021. The eight shots on goal in Monday's match equaled the amount taken in the semifinal match against the Tigers.
UCF's defense tightened up on the Highlanders in the second half, allowing just four second half shots and just one on goal which wound up being a routine save in net for Muñoz. At the final whistle, UCF led 18-11 in shots and 9-5 in corner kicks.
Villalobos earned two assists in the contest, the third time of his career he has done that. The last time he had a pair of assists was against No. 6 Tulsa on Oct. 10 in a 3-2 win. Anderson Rosa tallied a career high five shot attempts.
The Knights move to 2-0-0 all-time against UC Riverside, with the two team's only other meeting coming in 2002, a 1-0 neutral site victory for UCF.
Monday's contest was one of just two home matches for UCF in the month of September. The Knights won't return to the UCF Soccer Complex until Sep. 30 for a conference matchup against FAU. The Black and Gold will visit UC Irvine (Sep. 9), Temple (Sep. 17) and Memphis (Sep. 24) before playing another match in Orlando.
UCF will head to the West coast to face UC Irvine, the team's first match in California since 2012. The two sides will meet Friday night at 9 p.m. ET.
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