The No. 10 UCF men’s soccer team utilized a strong start to roll to a 4-2 Conference USA win over SMU at Westcott Field Saturday evening. The Knights never trailed during the match and improved to 8-1-1 overall and 2-0 in C-USA with the victory.
Junior Nik Robson (Auckland, New Zealand) gave UCF a 1-0 edge with a goal at the 32-minute mark. Two minutes later, junior Eduardo Jimenez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) scored. Sophomore McKauly Tulloch (Kingston, Jamaica), who leads the country in points per game, scored twice in the second half and now has 12 goals in only eight matches this season.
With the triumph, the Knights snapped a three-match winning streak for the Mustangs (5-1, 0-1). SMU was coming off a 2-1 victory at No. 18 UCLA.
“SMU is a first-class team. Tonight we knew that we would need a quick start,” UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “We were able to go up 2-0 and that got us going for the rest of the match.”
The contest was the second this week against a ranked opponent for the Knights. On Wednesday, host UCF opened C-USA play with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Kentucky. The Wildcats are ranked 21st nationally by the NSCAA. SMU is listed at No. 21 in the Soccer America poll.
Robson put UCF on the board in the first half after he corralled a rebound and scored from six yards out. Just over two minutes later, Tulloch crossed the ball over to Jimenez who beat SMU goalkeeper Jamie Ibarra.
Tulloch’s first goal came at the 55-minute mark from eight yards out and was assisted by senior Warren Creavalle (Acworth, Ga.). He added another score 14 minutes later off a feed from senior Kevan George (Roxborough, Trinidad).
The win over SMU was the second-straight for the Knights, who posted a 2-1 victory over the fifth-ranked Mustangs last year in Orlando. Playing SMU for the fourth time in on the road, the Knights picked up their first win in Dallas Saturday.
“Playing at SMU is never easy,” Cunningham said. “It is extremely difficult for a road team to win at SMU. I am very proud of our players. They took advantage of chances. This was a great win.”
UCF improved to 4-0-1 away from home this season.
Junior Shawn Doyle (Fort Myers, Fla.) totaled six saves in the win. SMU got goals from Ben Hill at the 42-minute mark and Damian Rosales with 17 minutes to play.
Eight Knights each logged 90 minutes in the contest.