Website Photo TemplateWebsite Photo Template

No. 1 Men's Soccer to Host SBC Quarterfinal Matchup against Gamecocks

by Ryan Ladika
Watch ESPN+ Live Stats Match Notes Ticketing Information

ORLANDO – With the conclusion of the 2023 fall regular season Oct. 31, the No. 1 UCF men’s soccer team turns its focus to the beginning of postseason play Sunday evening.

With their 10-2-2 record during the campaign, including a 6-2-1 record within Sun Belt Conference play, the Knights earned the right to host the first two rounds of the conference tournament Nov. 5 and Nov. 8 with their second-place finish and No. 2 overall seed.

The Sun Belt Conference also announced its post-season awards late Friday afternoon, and UCF was duly recognized and represented for its efforts throughout the regular season. Head coach Scott Calabrese was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year, sophomore transfer Clarence Awoudor was named Newcomer of the Year, and midfielder Saku Heiskanen was tabbed Freshman of the Year.

The team saw five players added to the conference’s first and second teams as well, including Lucca Dourado and Zane Bubb on the Sun Belt’s All-Conference First Team, and Heiskanen, Anderson Rosa and AJ Seals on the All-Conference Second Team.

Joining the Knights in Orlando will be the third-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers, the sixth-seeded Georgia State Panthers and the seventh-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks. UCF drew a first-round matchup with South Carolina to begin the tournament Sunday, and with a win would face the winner of the meeting between Georgia State and West Virginia in Wednesday night’s semifinals.

The other side of the conference bracket, hosted by the top-seeded Marshall Thundering Herd, features first-round meetings between the Herd and the No. 8 Old Dominion Monarchs, followed by an evening tilt between the fourth-seeded James Madison Dukes and the fifth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats.

The winner of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and an automatic bid to the 2023 NCAA Tournament will be decided with the 1 p.m. matinee championship match Nov. 12, with the game being hosted by the higher remaining seed.

Beginning Sunday night, the Knights will search for the fifth conference tournament championship in program history and their first since the 2020-21 campaign, moved to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UCF that season topped SMU 4-3 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 stalemate in regulation to begin the tournament before edging Tulsa 1-0 in the championship match, and would later advance as far as the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Knights also previously claimed three consecutive ASUN Conference Tournament titles from 2002-04, going a perfect 6-0 in their six tournament matches.

Against the other three programs that will make the trip to Orlando, the Knights produced an unbeaten 2-0-1 record during the regular season, claiming 3-2 victories against Georgia State and South Carolina and playing to a 2-2 draw with then-No. 4 West Virginia.

UCF squared off against its upcoming quarterfinal opponent Oct. 22 on the road and jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Yanis Belatrache, Lucca Dourado and Anderson Rosa before fending off a late Gamecocks rally within the final 20 minutes of play to earn its fifth of six straight wins from Sept. 29–Oct. 27.

The Knights’ first meeting with South Carolina also represented the second of three consecutive matches that saw the team score three or more goals, after UCF accomplished the feat just once in its first 10 matches this fall. The offensive outburst helped boost UCF’s end-of-season offensive output to an average 2.14 goals per game, the third-best mark in the Sun Belt and the 16th-best scoring offense in the nation.

The Gamecocks concluded the regular season with a 5-8-3 mark, including a 3-4-2 record in conference play, and the Sunday evening contest will represent the fourth top 10 opponent South Carolina has faced in its last six matches after the Gamecocks faced then-No. 7 West Virginia Oct. 12, the then-second-ranked Knights Oct. 22, and the No. 4 Thundering Herd in their season finale Oct. 31.

Kickoff for UCF and South Carolina’s Sun Belt Conference Quarterfinal matchup is slated for 7 p.m. from the UCF Soccer Complex Sunday night, and will be streamed on ESPN+.

The complete schedule for the first two rounds of the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Tournament hosted at the UCF Soccer Complex is as follows:

QUARTERFINAL Match 1: Nov. 5: (3) West Virginia vs. (6) Georgia State, 3 p.m. | LIVE STATS | WATCH ESPN+ | TICKETS

QUARTERFINAL Match 2: Nov. 5: (2) UCF vs. (7) South Carolina, 7 p.m. | LIVE STATS | WATCH ESPN+ | TICKETS

SEMIFINAL Match 3: Nov. 8: Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2, 7 p.m.


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.