Prior to the start of the Friday night’s game, junior Spencer Scott (Palm City, Fla.) told his mother that he would score a goal for her birthday. Not one to let down his mom, Scott followed through on that promise, scoring the game-winning goal to lift the UCF men’s soccer team to its first victory over a top-10 team in program history as it defeated No. 5 SMU, 2-1, at the UCF Soccer Complex.
The win keeps the Knights unbeaten in Conference USA play at 2-0 and 6-2 overall, while the loss drops the previously unbeaten Mustangs to 1-1 in league play and 9-1 overall.
With exactly 25 minutes remaining in the game, Scott corralled a pass from sophomore A.J. Nelson (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) at midfield and sprinted toward goal. From 20 yards out, Scott fired a hard, high shot that found its way into the top right corner. SMU goalkeeper Craig Hill dove to his left, deflecting the ball with his hand, but the power behind Scott’s drive was too much for the Mustangs’ keeper to stop.
“It’s my mom’s birthday today, so when I scored I just wanted to get over to where she was and tell her that was her present,” Scott said. “That was one of the biggest goals of my playing career and that was the biggest win we have since I’ve been here.”
“It’s a big win for the program,” head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “From start to finish, the players executed the game plan perfectly other than the one beautiful goal they (SMU) scored. Having such a large and supportive crowd behind us the whole game was unbelievable. The fans were really great tonight for us.”
Sophomore Nik Robson (Auckland, New Zealand) scored his seventh goal of the season with a brilliant move around the Mustang defense in the 11th minute for the game’s opening tally. Warren Creavalle (Acworth, Ga.) beat a defender just inside midfield and put a touch pass to his left to the sprinting Robson. The second-year Knight made a quick move to his right, turning the SMU defender around, and put a low show inside the far post to make it 1-0 for the Black and Gold.
Robson has now scored in each of the last three games and ranks among the nation’s best point-producing players this season.
SMU tied the game in the 26th minute on Jusue Soto’s third goal of the year. Positioned near the goal line to the left of the UCF goal, Robbie Derschang put a pass on the foot of Soto at the top of the penalty box. Soto fired a shot to the upper right corner for the equalizer and sent the teams into halftime tied, 1-1.
Scott’s goal was his third of the season, while Nelson collected his first assist of the 2010 campaign on the game winner.
Following Scott’s marker, SMU turned up the intensity, pushing for the goal that would tie the game and keep their unbeaten season alive. Those hopes were dashed by the UCF goalkeeper Shawn Doyle (Ft. Myers, Fla.) in the final minutes of the match.
Doyle recorded three saves in the game and prevented the Mustangs’ last-ditch efforts for the equalizer from happening. However, Doyle received tremendous support in front of him from the Knights’ defense.
Twice in the final seconds, UCF defenders were able to knock the ball out of danger and clear it from the penalty box.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Knights’ bench erupted in celebration with the 2-1 victory. The win was also the first in program history over the Mustangs. UCF had previously been 0-3-2 against SMU entering Friday night’s contest.
“It was a massive step forward winning that game and moving to 2-0 in the conference,” Cunningham added. “As a whole the conference is doing incredibly well this year and to beat a team of SMU’s caliber is a big step for this team and something that I hope will carry over to FIU.”
The Knights return to action on Tuesday, Oct. 5 when they host Florida International at the UCF Soccer Complex at 7 p.m. The game can also be seen live on the Bright House Sports Network.