The UCF men’s soccer team had trouble finding its footing during the initial 45 minutes of the match, but the Knights (6-8-1, 2-4-1 American Athletic Conference) took what they could get in a 1-0 win over Memphis (3-8-4, 1-3-3 AAC) Saturday night.
Coming off of 10 games in a 29-day stretch, head coach Bryan Cunningham saw that his team came out of the gate a bit slow, but freshman forward Gorka Aperribay stepped up with his second goal of the season in the second-to-last game of the season.
“I had to do what I had to do and just put a head on it,” Aperribay said. “It boosted [my confidence] a lot.
“The coach just reminded us that it’s the last couple games for the seniors and how fortunate we are to be playing this game.”
Aperribay’s point-blank, head ball beat the Memphis keeper to the left side in the 65th minute. It was assisted by sophomore midfielder Matias Pyysalo off of a corner kick.
Freshman goalkeeper Brendan Rennie came up big for the Knights after Zach Biggs got the game off. He stopped five shots, including a game-saving, diving stop off a free kick just outside the box with less than three minutes to play in the match.
“I couldn’t see the ball that well, but I could see it at the last second and I was able to get there,” Rennie said.
It was his first career shutout as a Knight and the team’s second of the season.
“[He] kept working hard and getting better and better. And he’s played very well since the Stetson match that he first started,” Cunningham said. “The results really weren’t indicative of how well he was playing and the saves he was making in those games.
“I’m pleased with the players to get a shutout. We haven’t had a shutout in a long time, and I think that’s massive for their confidence moving here toward the end of the regular season.”
UCF will play its final regular-season game of the season Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. during Senior Knight when it hosts Cincinnati.
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.