ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – A six-point night for sophomore midfielder Matias Pyysalo highlighted a 5-0 win for UCF over Florida Atlantic to open the 2015 campaign Friday night. The Knights scored four of their goals in the second half after freshmanNeico Regent opened the scoring in the 11th minute in front of a crowd of 577 at the UCF Soccer Stadium.
“We had a great warmup and I knew that we were going to start fast,” head coach Bryan Cunningham said. “It is imperative with this group to start quickly because we are relatively young. We scored a goal in the first 10 minutes and were relentless from there.”
Senior forward Hadji Barry and freshman Gorka Aperribay also found the back of the net in the season opener. Barry’s goal in the 70th came following an incredible individual effort, where he dribbled around two defenders and beat the keeper.
The Knights defense allowed just two shots on target and sophomore keeper Zach Biggs was there to make the save on both occasions to preserve his first-career shutout.
The six point-match for Pyysalo was the most since Deshorn Brownregistered seven points against Memphis (10/24/12).
“Matias was a bit under rated last year,” Cunningham said. “He completed every pass that he attempted and was very sharp, but he wasn’t rewarded with stats. This preseason he did really well and it was great to see some results from his hard work.”
NIECO NETS OPENER
-Regent found the ball on a scramble in front and his shot beat the keeper low to put UCF up in the 11th minute.
-The lead up to the goal was a free kick struck by Pyysalo from 30 yards out.
-The cross went off a head and was controlled on the right side by freshman Jakov Basic, who sent a pass over to Regent.
PYYSALO STRIKES TWICE
-After a long clear was misplayed by the keeper, Pyysalo took advantage of the miscue with a strong finish in the 54th minutes.
-Off a give-and-go, Aperribay tracked down a long cross and sent a pass back toward the middle for Pyysalo, who struck for his second marker.
-Pyysalo sent a through pass on the counter attack to Aperribay, who flipped the ball over the keeper.
“It was one of the breaking points in the game,” Pyysalo said. “At 3-0, we could continue playing our own game and start to kill the time remaining.”
-The Knights back four allowed just seven shots toward their own goal.
-Freshmen defenders C.J. Campbell, Zachary Waitman and Jakov Basic kept the Owls’ shots from the outside, allowing for Biggs to make easy stops.
“It is not easy to get a clean sheet,” Biggs said. “Even at five goals anything can happen. We stayed structurally sound the entire game.”
KNIGHTS WATCH DEBUT
-Despite a 45-minute lightning delay, the Knights Watch made an impact in its debut.
-The group chanted throughout the game and filled the far sidelines with students and alumni
-The announced attendance was 577, but a majority were on the opposite-side of the press box cheering on the Knights
-Become a member by clicking here.
“Tonight was like having a 12th-member on the field,” Pyysalo said. “The team could really feel the energy that the group provided throughout the entire match.”
-UCF makes the trip to Ft. Myers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to face Florida Gulf Coast.
-The Knights return to the UCF Soccer Stadium on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. against Mercer.