Website Photo TemplateWebsite Photo Template

No. 12 Men's Soccer to Host Vermont in NCAA Second Round

by Ryan Ladika
Watch ESPN+ Live Stats Tickets Match Notes

ORLANDO – The stage is set, and the Knights now know their opponent.

With the Vermont Catamounts’ 3-1 victory over the Rider Broncs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday evening, the 12th-seeded UCF men’s soccer team will host the Catamounts in the tournament’s second round Sunday night, marking the second meeting between the teams in the two programs' histories, and the first since a 1-1 draw in the 1992 season.

The Knights earned a bye in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and hosting honors for the second round with their national No. 12 seed as announced during the NCAA’s Monday afternoon selection show, and the two teams will square off for the chance to face the winner of No. 5 West Virginia’s Sunday matchup against Louisville in the tournament’s third round.

“I’m really happy for the guys,” said head coach Scott Calabrese during Monday’s selection show. “They put in a lot of work, and it didn’t start just at the beginning of the year. They put in an incredible amount of work during the summer and now they’ve been rewarded with this incredible opportunity.”

UCF enters tournament play with the benefit of two full weeks off following the team’s slim 2-1 defeat to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Nov. 5. The time to reset and recharge comes on the heels of five matches in the span of 19 days culminating in the team’s conference tournament opener.

Owners of a 10-3-2 record through their first 15 matches, including a 6-2-1 mark within Sun Belt Conference play, the Knights look to return to their winning ways after a pair of 2-1 defeats to James Madison and South Carolina punctuated a regular season that saw UCF begin 10-1-2, with its only loss in that span at the hands of the top-ranked Marshall Thundering Herd.

“I think we can learn from those last matches, and there are some things that we can do better. We’re going address those in training and in video, and we’re going to learn those lessons,” Calabrese continued. “We’re going to arrive to the next game prepared, to make sure that those things don’t hurt us in the way they have those last two games.”

Veteran forward Lucca Dourado, who garnered a Sun Belt All-Conference First Team selection for his efforts, served as the group’s leading scorer through 15 matches with a team-best 20 points on the strength of nine goals and two assists. His standout performance represented his third consecutive season with at least 20 points and his two assists tied his season high, also achieved during the fall 2021 campaign.

Sophomore goalkeeper Juanvi Muñoz represented a steady and reliable presence in goal throughout the fall slate as well, setting career-bests in minutes, goals allowed (14), goals-against average (1.017), save percentage (.750) and shutouts (3). The Valencia, Spain, native’s 1.017 goals-against average marked the third-best in the Sun Belt, and he also slotted in with the fourth-best save percentage.

In Vermont, the Knights will meet a Catamounts team that bounced back from a quarterfinal loss in the America East Tournament with a two-goal win over Rider Thursday night, marking the team’s first match with three or more goals since Vermont topped Binghamton by a 5-0 final score Oct. 14.

The Catamounts, playing in the America East Conference, represent one of the more aggressive offensive-minded teams in the conference, having recorded the second-most shots per game (14.05) and third-most shots on goal per game (5.74) in the league.

The team has also excelled on the defensive end, limiting its opposition to one or fewer goals in 16 of its first 19 matches this fall, and its .737 goals-against average ranks third-best in the America East and 10th in the nation.

Offensively, the Catamounts are led by redshirt-junior forward Yaniv Bazini, who has tallied a team-best 23 points in his 17 games, including 10 goals and a trio of assists. He most recently notched his first multi-goal game of the season in leading Vermont past Rider in the first round Thursday, and his four game-winning goals this season are good for a share of first in the conference.

In goal, redshirt-senior Owen Jack has handled all 1,710 minutes for the Catamounts, compiling eight shutouts and a 0.737 goals-against average that ranks third-lowest in the conference. The Cape Coral, Florida, native’s .778 save percentage also ranks third-best in the America East, and he’s made the third-most saves of any goalkeeper in the conference with 49 thus far.

Kickoff from the UCF Soccer Complex is set for 6 p.m. Sunday evening, and the match will be streamed on ESPN+. Tickets can be purchased here, and UCF students can purchase discounted tickets for $3.00 with their UCF IDs.


Follow UCF men’s soccer on X (@UCF_MSoccer), Instagram (@UCF.MSoccer) and Facebook (/UCFMensSoccer).


Never miss any UCF Knights news from your favorite teams by downloading the free UCF Knights app right to your iOS or Android devices. The app provides personalized information for men’s and women’s teams, scores, schedules, loyalty programs and breaking news. Click here to download the app now.