The No. 22 UCF men’s soccer team (9-2-2) scored three first-half goals to defeat Virginia Tech (4-9-1) Tuesday afternoon at Thompson Field, 4-2. The Knights and Hokies played an intense first 20 minutes as the teams combined to score three goals in that time. Sophomore Eduardo Jimenez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) scored the eventual game-winner when he found the back of the net in the 40th minute to lift the Knights to the nonconference win.
“Give the team a lot of credit as it has been a tough week of travel for us,” head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “Virginia Tech was a very resilient team, but we were able to put four goals in today that helped us to get the win.”
Junior Warren Creavalle (Acworth, Ga.) put UCF up 1-0 in just the eighth minute of the game. Sophomore Nik Robson (Auckland, New Zealand) picked up an assist on the opening tally as he fed Creavalle for the open look inside the box. The goal was Creavalle’s third in the last four contests.
Former Hokie Luiz Yamashita (Sao Paulo, Brazil) gave his current team a 2-0 lead with his third goal of the season just over five minutes later. Yamashita, who transferred to UCF from Virginia Tech following the 2008 season, put a shot inside the far post from the left side of the 18-yard box. Junior captain Kevan George (Roxborough, Trinidad) picked up his second assist of the season on the marker.
“I could tell this was going to be a special day for Luiz, you could see it in his eyes this morning,” Cunningham said. “I told my assistant coaches that I thought he was going to score a goal today and he came through. Luiz created some good chances for his teammates as well and was just very effective throughout the entire game.”
Virginia Tech answered back with its first goal in the 19th minute to cut the lead in half. Evan Slusser headed in his first tally of the year on Clarke Bentley’s corner kick to make it 2-1 in the early going.
Jimenez scored the final tally of the opening period to give his team a little breathing room headed into the half. The second-year midfielder put a shot from the top of the box that beat James Daly in goal for the Hokies to give the Knights a 3-1 lead at the break. The goal was the second of the season and Jimenez’s career.
The scoring didn’t stop in the second half; it just took a little bit longer for either team to find the back of the net like they had early in the first.
Sophomore forward A.J. Nelson (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) scored his third of the season in the 68th minute to give his team the three-goal cushion, 4-1. Freshman Steven Lamberta (Temecula, Fla.) picked up his first-career point, assisting on the goal.
A Jed Prater tally in the 72nd minute cut the lead to 4-2, but that was as close as the Hokies would get as UCF held on for the two-goal victory.
Sophomore Shawn Doyle (Ft. Myers, Fla.) stopped three shots en route to earning his ninth win of the season. The nine victories are the most by any goalkeeper at UCF since the program joined Conference USA in 2005.
The Hokies held a substantial advantage in corner kicks in the contest. Virginia Tech was awarded the corner 11 times in the game, while UCF managed just three opportunities.
The Knights wrapped up their three-game road swing with the win and will return home for their next three contests. UCF will host Stetson next on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the UCF Soccer Complex. The matchup with the Hatters marks the beginning of a three-game homestand for the Knights who will finish the regular season at Tulsa on Nov. 5 before the conference tournament the following week.