The No. 12 UCF men’s soccer team rolled to its fifth-straight win to open the season Sunday, routing Mercer, 5-2, at Bear Field. Four different players scored for the Knights, who improved to 5-0 on the year.
As a result of Sunday’s big win, the Knights have matched the 1997 and 2001 UCF squads for the best start in school history at the Division I level.
The Knights, who outshot Mercer (1-3-1) 17-8 during the match, led 2-0 at halftime after a pair of goals from sophomore McKauly Tulloch (Kingston, Jamaica). The UCF advantage grew to 4-0 nine minutes into the second half after junior Nik Robson (Auckland, New Zealand) and senior Cameron Cooksey (Marietta, Ga.) both scored within a minute.
“I was really happy with our player’s attitude,” UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “We were playing on the road and our approach was very professional. We were ready to go at the opening whistle, and never looked back.”
Tulloch, who scored on a quick turnaround shot from 20 yards out 15 minutes into the match and then beat Mercer goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh on a breakaway setup by Robson with 40:54 on the clock, recorded six shots and also assisted on Cooksey’s goal. The Knights were aggressive from the start as Tulloch had a pair of shots on goal the first five minutes of the match. Later, his two goals brought his total on the year to eight in only five matches.
Robson opened the scoring in the second half by getting past Ranjitsingh on a penalty kick at the 48:43 mark. Less than one minute later, Tulloch took a shot and Cooksey scored off the rebound.
Three minutes after the Bears got on the board with a Ehjayson Henry goal, UCF junior Luiz Yamashita (Sao Paulo, Brazil) scored from inside the box, assisted by Cooksey and senior Kevan George (Decatur, Ga.).
Nineteen Knights saw action against the Bears.
“We were good going forward today. A lot of players got involved,” Cunningham said. “It was good to see us finish our chances. We were able to get every player minutes today. That will help us in the long run.”
Junior Shawn Doyle (Fort Myers, Fla.) logged just over 71 minutes in the winning effort and posted one save before sophomore Will Hectico (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) entered the contest.