Knights oust top-20 opponent
UCF's shutout win over SMU gives it a boost in C-USA standings
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 15:10
Steven Lamberta’s 68th-minute goal was all the UCF men’s soccer team needed as the Knights defeated the No.17 SMU Mustangs 1-0 Sunday night.
Lamberta picked up a loose ball about 10 feet away from the net and fired through traffic, hitting the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
“We’ve been talking about just stuffing the ball in the back of the net. Steven made the most of his opportunity and did just that,” said UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham.
The Knights landed six shots on goal in the match, two higher than their season average.
Junior forward McKauly Tulloch took three shots in the game and landed all three on net. He also assisted Lamberta’s goal. The team leader in goals scored, Deshorn Brown, was held to just two shots on the game, one of which was on target.
Both teams played a strong defensive game as the shot total was 11-7 in favor of UCF. Entering the match, the Knights were taking almost 16 shots per game while allowing 12 by opponents.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game. It was a different standard of game as far as passing went. Both teams tried to keep the ball and fight for chances. We knew that coming in and we knew our players just had to take chances when they had them. We were more focused on getting behind them instead of taking chances from a distance,” said Cunningham.
UCF goalkeeper Sebastian Evers made two key saves in the match and recorded his fourth shutout in the last five games. The Knights have allowed just one goal in their last five contests.
“The defending wasn’t working early in the season. My Assistant coach Antti Laitinen came in. He had some fresh ideas, saw some things we could change up that we just started implementing two and a half weeks ago,” said Cunningham. “It’s paying off, and that’s a total credit to him and to the players who learned and absorbed the information.”
The loss for SMU was the team’s first since Sept. 2 against New Mexico, snapping an eight-game unbeaten streak. SMU falls to 4-1 in Conference-USA play, but still sits at the top of the standings with 12 points.
The Knights improve to 2-1 in the conference and are tied for third place with Marshall. UCF’s next opponent, Tulsa, leads the Knights by one point with a conference record of 2-1-1.
UCF will travel to Tulsa next Sunday for an afternoon game. The Knights have a 3-2-1 record on the road this season and are currently riding a one-game win streak over the Golden Hurricane.
“This team wants to win a conference championship. It’s as simple as that. We knew all along we have a good team, and a win like that gives them their swagger back because SMU is a quality opponent. The beauty of where we are in the season right now is this was the start of six games in 21 days. Everyone who is ahead of us in the league is on our schedule, so what more could you want as a player to control your own destiny to win the league,” said Cunningham.