In the third matchup between UCF (4-5-1, 1-1-1 in AAC) and Temple (7-3-2, 0-3-0 in AAC) in program history, the Knights were put on their toes early but overcame the Owls’ first goal to win 3-1 Tuesday night.
Even though the Owls were without their leading scorer Jorge Gomez Sanchez, who is second in the NCAA with 11 goals in as many games, UCF allowed the first goal of the game for just the fourth time all season.
But UCF lit a flame behind its feet in the second half as it scored two goals less than five minutes apart.
“In the second half, we preached them at halftime is, ‘Let’s not write this same script where we’re going to dominate an opponent and lose,’” head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “I’ve been preaching to not feel sorry for themselves and just come out and keep grinding and keep working, especially like a game like tonight.
“I’m just really pleased that the players responded the way they did.”
Trailing 1-0, sophomore midfielder Walker Dawkins got things started for the Knights in the 54th minute. He picked up his second goal of the season on a ball that was deflected around before he found a foot on it and put it in the back of the net.
“The ball popped out, I was on the 18 [yard marker] and I just took a touch and tried to make something out of it,” Dawkins said.
Just 4:10 later, senior midfielder Hadji Barry extended his scoring streak to five games.
Freshman defender Zackary Waitman crossed a ball that ricocheted off of senior captain Mason Miller’s knee before it found its way to Barry’s foot. He took the initial shot, got his own rebound and struck it into the top left corner. Waitman and Miller each recorded assists on Barry’s seventh goal of the season.
“Hadj[i] has just been working a lot off the field in the assistant coaches offices and my office and just really taking to be a total player,” Cunningham said.
Freshman midfielder Dre Deas iced the cake in the 84th minute with his first career goal as a Knight. He juggled the ball up to himself and put a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper to seal UCF’s first victory over Temple in program history. The first two games each ended in draws.
“I’ve been going through a lot and the first goal [was] just amazing,” Deas said. “I just wanted to get the ball and make a difference on the team.”
UCF continues its three-game home stand Saturday at 1 p.m. against Tulsa.
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JHeil11 or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.