ORLANDO – Lucca Dourado’s two goals lifted the UCF men’s soccer team to their first victory as the second-ranked team in the country, by a 2-0 decision, against the Georgia Southern Eagles in a Saturday night matchup at the UCF Soccer Complex.
“Our benchmark is us,” head coach Scott Calabrese said. “Every week we will look at what we did, what we did well and what we can improve on. From there we will train, so we can continue to get better at what we are trying to do. That process is the same no matter the opponent.”
The Eagles (1-5-5, 0-2-2 SBC) were coming off of a 3-1 loss to No. 1 Marshall, while the Knights (6-1-2, 2-1-1 SBC) entered the contest fresh off a 1-0 victory against Kentucky in Lexington.
Saturday’s shutout victory was UCF’s third of the season and second in a row. It was also first time the Knights have recorded consecutive shutout wins since March 13-27, 2021, when the team notched three straight clean sheets against then-No. 9 SMU, Temple and South Florida, with 2-0, 4-0 and 1-0 (2OT) wins, respectively. The 2-0 decision also extended the team’s opponent scoreless streak to 245 minutes and 38 seconds dating back to the Knights’ 1-0 defeat at Marshall Sept. 23.
Action started in the ninth minute as Dourado received a pass from midfielder Robbie Soronellas, who was also assisted by AJ seals. The ball soared past Georgia Southern goalkeeper Nate Martinez and into the lower left corner of the Eagles’ goal to give UCF an early 1-0 lead to start the night.
The goal was the 33rd of Dourado’s career, which gave him sole possession of sixth place on the Knights’ all-time scoring list, passing Matias Pyysalo.
“I’m proud of myself for doing this,” Dourado said of his accomplishment. “I couldn’t do this without my teammates, they help me a lot to do this, sometimes I just have to put the ball in the net and they’re the ones that should get credit for it.”
Zachary Martin of Georgia Southern was the first of three players in Saturday’s matchup to be given a yellow card, all for unsporting. Martin would later receive another yellow card in the 51st minute during the second half, which would rule him disqualified for the rest of the match, leaving the Eagles down a man on the field.
Play remained steadfast until the 83rd minute when Dourado struck again, this time on an empty-net goal giving the Knights an insurance goal going into the final seven minutes of play.
Dourado’s multi-goal night was the Knights’ first by a player thus far, and the first since the forward last did it Oct. 9, 2022 against Florida International. The senior now has seven multi-goal games in his career as a Knight.
“We have a very good team,” Calabrese continued on. “We’re capable of competing. We see that we can compete with anybody and we have the ability to achieve results against anybody as well. There’s a solidness to this group and I don’t think there is a limit to what this team can do.”
UCF will head back to the road to face the Old Dominion Monarchs at the ODU Soccer Complex in Norfolk, Virginia, Oct. 14 with a kickoff time slated for 7 p.m.