Junior Nik Robson (Bucklands Beach, New Zealand) scored a pair of second half goals to help the No. 11 UCF men’s soccer team rally for a thrilling 2-1 Conference USA victory Saturday evening at the UCF Soccer Complex. The Knights improved to 9-2-2 overall and 3-1-1 in league play with the win.
Robson netted the game-winning goal at the 70-minute mark. Senior Spencer Scott (Palm City, Fla.) set up the score with a cross that was handled inside the box by freshman Matthew Gaskins (St. Petersburg, Fla.) before a spinning Robson shot across his body past Tulsa (5-10-0, 1-5-0) goalkeeper Michael Murray.
Robson, who now has six goals on the year, tied the match in the 65th minute when he scored on a free kick from 20 yards out.
The win over Tulsa was the first in nine tries for the Knights, who improved to 5-1 at home in 2011 with the victory. The Golden Hurricane grabbed a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the match when a Tulsa header bounced off a UCF defender and was controlled by Quinn Starker, who fired a shot above UCF redshirt freshman goalkeeper Sebastian Evers (Miami, Fla).
“We knew that this was going to be a tough match,” UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “You can throw their record out. They are one of the best teams in the league. We knew it was going to be a battle. The players were up for it. Going down a goal early never helps, but give our players a lot of credit. We were able to battle back and come out of here with a nice win.”
The Golden Hurricane threatened to tie the match late, but the Knights clamped down defensively. With just over a minute to play, Murray left his usual position and fired off shot on goal. Evers, who was making his collegiate debut, made a diving save to knock away the surprising shot from his counterpart.
The contest was the first at home for the Knights since Sept. 28. UCF was slated to host South Carolina on Oct. 8, but the match was postponed due to heavy rains.
“People were saying, `you guys never play.’ We have not been home in a while, it is nice to be back,” Robson said. “(Conference games) are always tough. The last few minutes are always going to be a battle like that. We have learned our lessons from games where we have let a goal in the last minute, this year and last year. But we don’t do that anymore.”
The physical contest featured 32 total fouls and four yellow cards.
Evers totaled six saves in the winning effort. Tulsa recorded 11 shots, while the Knights had nine shots, with seven coming after halftime.