ORLANDO – The UCF men's soccer team was edged by a goal in a conference game for a third straight match, falling 2-1 to No. 23 SMU on Wednesday afternoon at home. The Knights didn't allow an SMU shot on target for the first 75 minutes but allowed a pair of goals in a three-minute span.
"It was a much better performance than our last two matches," said head coach Scott Calabrese. "It was drastically different. I think the result is not indicating how the match went. I feel like we created so many good chances in that match and did the things we wanted to do."
UCF opened the scoring in the 31st minute, as Lucca Dourado was able to find the back of the net for the sixth consecutive match on the Knights' third shot of the half. Mauricio Villalobos Vega passed the ball up to Anderson Rosa at the 18-yard box, who then crossed the ball directly to the right foot of Dourado. The goal on the first-time ball marked Dourado's eighth goal of the campaign. His streak is the second-longest active in the country, behind only LIU's Emil Jaaskelainen with an active streak of seven.
The Knights defense remained strong through the first half, allowing only three shots, with none of them on target. Even with both teams evenly sharing the possession, UCF outshot the Mustangs 5-3.
The Knights came out strong in the second half with two quality chances from Emmanuel Bam and Beto Ydrach. Bam had a great chance with a header near the post in the second minute of the final frame but SMU keeper Bram Kaarsgaren was able to make a diving save to keep the score 1-0. Ydrach nearly made something out of nothing in the 68th minute, going on a run and taking a shot from distance that ended up hitting the left post and going out of play.
The Mustangs evened the match in the 75th minute when Nikola Djordjevic drew Juanvi Muñoz out of the box and passed the ball to Harvey Castro, who was able to hammer home a shot past AJ Seals. UCF hadn't allowed a shot on goal in the first 75 minutes of the match.
It didn't take long for SMU to take the lead, as two minutes later, Mads Westergren was able to capitalize on a free kick that made its way to the top left corner of the goal and just out of reach of Muñoz.
UCF had a chance to equalize the match when a handball from SMU led to a penalty kick in the 81st minute. Dourado stepped up to take the shot but bounced the chance off the crossbar and out of play. The Knights continued to put pressure on keeper Jaaskelainen in the final three minutes of the match but came up empty-handed.
UCF finished the contest with 13 shot attempts and four shots on frame in comparison to the Mustangs' six, with three shots on goal. The Black and Gold held one of the nation's highest scoring offenses to zero goals through 75 minutes and finished allowing two. SMU entered the match scoring an average of three goals per match, which ranks fourth in the nation.
The Knights entered the match leading the nation in least number of fouls committed per game but ended up committing 16 in today's match.
UCF has now fallen in three straight matches, all decided by one goal. The Knights are now 1-3 in conference play and 4-4 on the season.
In the 26 all-time meetings between the two sides, 19 games have been decided by a goal or less. SMU holds an 11-8-7 lead in the all-time series over UCF.
The Knights will travel down I-95 to face FIU for the first time as an American Athletic Conference opponent on Sunday at 6 p.m.
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