Photo by Megan Turner.

The No. 6 UCF men’s soccer team secured the top seed in the 2019 American Athletic Conference Championship following a crucial win Friday night against the Memphis Tigers 1-0 at the UCF Soccer and Track Complex.

After going scoreless through 85 minutes of the game, redshirt freshman Gianluca Arcangeli connected with the ball for the first time in two months to give UCF the 1-0 lead with five minutes left in regulation. 

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“The team was really connected throughout the whole game and it’s just amazing the feeling of winning a championship,” Arcangeli said. “It’s not even the goal, it’s just the whole feeling of being together and winning something.”

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The Knights’ defense didn’t allow Memphis to have many opportunities in the contest.

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In the first half, Memphis had three shots but only one on goal and none in the second half — the Knights out shot the Tigers 8-3 on the night.

The Knights’ earned their first American Athletic Conference Championship last year, and UCF head coach Scott Calabrese said the bond the guys have is unmatched.

“I think one of the hardest things to do is follow-up success with success, because you really have to stay hungry,” Calabrese said. “You don’t surprise anybody anymore, it just shows their absolute commitment to each other.”

Calabrese said the team is truly a family on and off the field, and the successes they share reflect that bond.

“Love that we’ve had back-to-back championships,” he said. “But even more so, just excited we get to play again and that we get to keep going.”

The Knights will hit the road to play their final match of the regular season Tuesday at 7 p.m. against the Cincinnati Bearcats in Cincinnati.

The Knights lead the series between the conference teams 7-0-0 and have never experienced a loss to the Bearcats, but have come out on top of a game that came down to a goal. 

The Knights — who are 12-1-2 overall and 5-0-1 in conference play — will have a chance to clinch sole possession of the AAC regular season title with a win or draw in Cincinnati before heading into conference semifinals as the top seed on Nov. 13.