After the Knights’ second match of the season was declared a no contest in the 63rd minute, they played a match against Mercer that mattered Sunday night.
UCF was down 2-0 during Wednesday night’s contest against Florida Gulf Coast University before the game was called due to lightning. But there was no lightning in sight Sunday night, and the Bears (2-2-0) defeated the Knights (1-1-0), 2-0.
“We don’t want to make any excuses. We’ve had plenty of time to come back from that,” head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “Unfortunately, they got us in two isolated situations and they scored two goals.”
The Knights controlled the pace of play, especially in the final 10 minutes of the match, forcing Mercer to take two yellow cards while creating three scoring opportunities.
“We passed the ball great tonight, we controlled the possession and we had 18 shots,” Cunningham said. “The only thing that matters is getting those goals.”
But it was too little, too late for the Knights as they weren’t able to come away with anything on the board.
“We’ve got to be more opportunistic. We’re looking to stuff the ball in the top corner and play the perfect passes all the time,” Cunningham said. “It’s college soccer. You can play pretty, but you’ve got to score dirty sometimes.”
Mercer’s Conner Antley opened up the scoring in the seventh minute as he struck the ball cleanly to the back of the net.
Jordan Gooden put the nail in the Knights’ coffin with a header that beat goalkeeper Zach Biggs to the far post with 14 seconds left in the first half.
In the 79th minute, Biggs held the Bears from putting in a trio of goals. He challenged a Mercer player by sliding out of the box and cleanly knocking the ball off the attacker’s foot, avoiding a card or free kick.
The Knights will embark on a two-game road stand Wednesday when they take on North Florida.
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.