Nov. 20, 2011
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By Doug Richards
TAMPA, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Playing in the NCAA Championship second round for the second-straight year, the UCF men's soccer team fell in heartbreaking fashion, 2-1 in overtime, to No. 7 seed USF Sunday at Corbett Soccer Stadium. Wesley Chapie scored in the 95th minute to give the Bulls the victory.
The Knights, who played valiantly all evening in front of a stadium-record 3,029 fans, end the year at 12-6-3 overall. On Sunday, the Knights finished with a 12-5 edge in shots, and had seven corner kicks, compared to two for USF.
"At the end of the day, we came on the road to South Florida in front of over 3,000 fans, and our players responded," UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham said. "I thought we played exceptionally well. Statistically, we played them off the field. Where it mattered, they beat us. And that is in the score line."
Chapie sent the Bulls (13-3-3) to the third round when he headed in a score inside the box past Sebastian Evers off a feed from Sebastien Thuriere. USF will face either New Mexico or Duke next week in Tampa.
The Knights had three corner kicks during the last minute of regulation, and Eduardo Jimenez had a shot inside the box that was blocked with less than 10 seconds on the clock.
The Bulls scored thanks to an own goal in the 69th minute, but the Knights responded two minutes later when Ben Hunt recorded a goal off of a Nik Robson corner kick. Robson landed the ball inside the box, and Hunt turned and fired to even the match.
"This group went on the road last year in the second round at Michigan in front of 5,000 fans and played well. I thought our players were up to the challenge. This was probably one of our best games of the year in terms of possession and moving the ball and creating chances. Unfortunately tonight just wasn't meant to be," Cunningham said.
The contest was a rematch of last year's first-round matchup in Orlando. The Knights rolled to a 3-0 victory at the UCF Soccer Complex. Hunt scored a year ago against the Bulls.
With six minutes remaining in the second half, UCF was whistled for a foul in the box, but USF's Leston Paul was unable to capitalize as his penalty kick hit the post.
The hosts threatened to score two minutes into the second half, but Evers knocked away a few shots after a corner from Morten Benestad.
UCF was playing without All-Conference USA First Team midfielder Warren Creavalle, who was unable to take the field due to an injury the senior suffered during the Knights' 1-0 double overtime first-round win over Florida Gulf Coast Thursday.
The Knights had several scoring opportunities during the scoreless, yet entertaining first half, including one 10 minutes into the match, but USF goalkeeper Chris Blais made a diving save of a Jimenez free kick. McKauly Tulloch took a pair of shots in the first half, and had a one-on-one with Blais after securing a pass from A.J. Nelson, but the goalkeeper made the stop.
Blais finished with five saves in the winning effort. Last year, he played at Michigan and picked up the victory when the Wolverines held off the Knights in the second round of the championship.
UCF enjoyed an incredible 2011 season, spending the entire year in the top-25 nationally. The Knights were ranked as high as No. 6, and advanced to the C-USA semifinals earlier in the month.
The contest served as the final collegiate match for seniors Cameron Cooksey, Kevan George and Spencer Scott. George played all 96 minutes, while Scott and Cooksey played 90 and 84 minutes, respectively.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys," Cunningham said. "This program has come so far. It is all because of our seniors; the leadership they exhibit. They leave it out there. They make sure that the rest of the team understands the culture that we created. It was apparent tonight. We were on the wrong end of this, but we will be back next year."