Knights advance to second round

Knights+advance+to+second+round

Mary Stevens / Valencia Voice

UCF soccer player, Nik Robson, kicks the ball toward its' next destination in game against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.

It wasn’t until after a scoreless 90 minutes that the UCF Knights managed to grab a spot in the second round of the NCAA Championship with a goal in double overtime against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at the UCF Soccer Complex Thursday night.The Knights hosted the first round of the NCAA Championship at home for the second consecutive year. They failed to clinch the second round last year with a loss to Michigan.

Florida Gulf Coast dominated the beginning of the first half, outnumbering the Knights in shots, but was kept scoreless by UCF goalkeeper Sebastian Evers, who had three saves early in the game. The Eagles had ten shots over the Knight’s eight. Rising sophomore McKauly Tulloch made half of the Knight’s shots, with one shot on goal.

“As an experienced group they came out here and pressured us. They put us in some tight spots and we didn’t get out of them,” said UCF coach Bryan Cunningham about the team’s slow start.
“To be honest with you, it took probably about 15 to 20 minutes for our players to settle down and start to control the game a little bit.”

Things remained heated in the second half as the Knight’s had five shots to the Eagles’ four with a couple of close calls from UCF Knight Eduardo Jimenez, who sliced the ball into the side hitting the post, and a shot by Eagle Deion Jones that skimmed the top post. Evers added another three saves throughout the second half and overtime to end with a total of seven saves for the night.

UCF’s goal came in the second overtime with a short pass from Matthew Gaskins and Malcolm Reed to mid-fielder Kevan George, who tapped it in. George stated that his eyes were closed when he made the goal and didn’t see what happened.
“This game has got to be number one for me in soccer moments,” he said. “I thought the Marshall game was going to top it off for me but this game meant way more because they beat us earlier in the season and it wasn’t our best game, so we had something to prove.”

UCF spent 10 weeks ranked in the top 25 national poll this season and made it into the Conference USA Championship Semi Finals in Tulsa, Oklahoma where they lost to the UAB Blazers last week. The Knights will advance to the second round of the NCAA Championship to play the USF Bulls on Sunday at the Corbett Soccer Stadium.