The No. 8 ranked UCF Men’s Soccer team had its seven-game unbeaten streak snapped Saturday afternoon by Florida Gulf Coast University, as the Eagles won 2-1 at the UCF Soccer Complex.
UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham knew that the winning streak would eventually come to an end, but he didn’t expect it to come on this day.
“You don’t want it to end, but it’s unfortunate,” said Cunningham after the loss. “It’s not often that we get outplayed at home, and credit Florida Gulf Coast. They outplayed us. We had plenty of chances today that went begging, and they had two great chances and they finished them.”
The Knights were without their leading scorer and the top goal scorer in the nation, sophomore forward McKauly Tulloch, who is serving his mandatory two-game suspension for receiving a red card on Sept. 16 against George Mason.
FGCU (3-2-2) took the early lead eight minutes into the match after a cross went over the head of UCF goalkeeper Shawn Doyle, and then was put in by Cristian Raudales.
UCF (6-1-1) answered back with 10 minutes to go in the half when junior Ben Hunt kicked the ball into the back of the net after rebounding a header that went off the post from Steven Lamberta.
FGCU came out of halftime aggressive, scoring three and a half minutes in when midfielder Andres Navas received a cross from Francesco DiStefano, and shot it into the back of the net.
Over the next 40 minutes, UCF had numerous scoring opportunities, but they just couldn’t get the ball past FGCU goalkeeper and last year’s Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year, Adam Glick.
UCF outshot FGCU 17-9, and also had a 9-4 advantage in corner kicks. FGCU’s Raudales and Navas both scored their second individual goals of the season.
Coming off an upset victory, FGCU will look to carry some momentum into its conference play as they will travel upstate to face Stetson on Friday night.
Coach Cunningham was surprised to see that the team’s first loss of the season came at home.
“It’s not often that we get out-worked here at home,” said Cunningham. “But it happened, and we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
UCF team captain and senior midfielder Kevan George, who was one of three position players for the Knights to play all 90 minutes, has confidence that his team will bounce back after the tough loss.
“It’s the first loss in a while, actually, said George. “Monday we have to come out with a new attitude, and put it behind us. We will be ready for Wednesday, trust me.”
UCF will start conference play on Wednesday night at home against Kentucky. Tulloch is expected to be back in the lineup for the game. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.