Men's Soccer Prepares for NCAA Tournament Thursday Against USF

GO KNIGHTS A.J. Nelson and the Knights host USF in the first round fo the NCAA Tournament.
A.J. Nelson and the Knights host USF in the first round fo the NCAA Tournament.

Nov. 17, 2010

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By Pat Salvas

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - For the first time in program history, the UCF men's soccer team will host an NCAA Tournament game when it takes the field Thursday against the University of South Florida. The Knights and Bulls will square off at the UCF Soccer Complex at 5 p.m. in the first-round matchup with the winner heading to take on No. 10 Michigan Sunday afternoon.

The Knights received their first-ever at-large bid into the field of 48 teams with an impressive 2010 season. UCF's 11-4-3 record earned them a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since winning the A-Sun Tournament Championship from 2002-2004. The final RPI was the method used by the Selection Committee when picking the 26 at-large teams and had the Knights ranked No. 29.

UCF will be joined by three other Conference USA teams in the national postseason. South Carolina earned a No. 7 seed and a bye into the second round by virtue of knocking off top-seeded SMU and three-time defending C-USA champion Tulsa as it captured the conference tournament championship. Only the BIG EAST (7), the Big 10 (5) and the ACC (5) placed more teams in the tournament than four programs from C-USA.

USF comes to Orlando with a 9-5-4 overall record. The Bulls last played more than two weeks ago when they fell, 2-1, at West Virginia in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Nov. 3. Two of USF's losses this season came to national powers. The Bulls fell, 2-1, in double overtime to overall No. 1 seed Louisville (16-0-3), while also dropping a 4-0 decision in Storrs against UConn (12-2-5).

The all-time series is heavily in favor of USF as it holds a 20-3-4 record over UCF. The Knights' last win against the Bulls came on Oct. 31, 2001 as they went to Tampa and came away with a 3-1 victory.

The two teams met in last season's opening game with No. 11 USF prevailing, 2-1.

Thursday's Match
The Knights will host their first-ever NCAA Tournament game against in-state rival USF. The Bulls and Knights will square off in what will be the final game of the season at the UCF Soccer Complex. The winner of Tuesday's game will move on to play Michigan in Ann Arbor Sunday at 2 p.m.

How We Got Here
UCF dropped its C-USA Tournament semifinal matchup with Tulsa, 2-1, in its most recent game. The second-seeded Knights fell behind early to the three-time defending conference champs before tying the game midway through the first half. However, the Golden Hurricane scored once more in the second half to take the `W' and move on to the conference title game for the fourth-straight season.

Honor Roll
Six players were honored by the C-USA coaches for their play this season. Sophomore Nik Robson (Auckland, New Zealand) and juniors Warren Creavalle (Acworth, Ga.) and Kevan George (Roxborough, Trinidad) were all named to the All-Conference First Team, while Yaron Bacher (Atlanta, Ga.) and goalkeeper Shawn Doyle (Ft. Myers, Fla.) were named to the second and third teams, respectively. Steven Lamberta (Temecula, Calif.) rounded out the Knights on the postseason honor roll was named to the All-Freshman Team. Robson also landed on the C-USA All-Academic Team. Creavalle and Camilo Rendon (Miami, Fla.) were also honored as members of the C-USA All-Tournament Team.

National Spotlight
Robson's season has elevated the sophomore midfielder to one of the premier offensive players in the nation. His nine goals and nine assists gave him the 19th-best point total in the country (27), while his 0.53 assists per game during his sophomore season were the 10th best amongst all players in Division I.

Stingy Defense
The Knights may have had one of the top offensive teams in C-USA this season with 37 goals scored, but they were also the top defensive team. UCF allowed just 15 goals in 18 games in 2010, and coming into the NCAA Tournament contest with the Bulls, the Knights have only allowed only three goals at home, while recording six shutouts in eight games at the UCF Soccer Complex. Doyle led the conference in goals-against average (0.80), save percentage (.810) and was second with seven shutouts. No other C-USA goalkeeper had a goals-against average below 1.00 this year.

True Team Testament
This season, five UCF players have recorded double-digit point totals. Robson led his team and all of C-USA with 27 points, while juniors Spencer Scott (Palm City, Fla.) and Cameron Cooksey (Marietta, Ga.) each had 14 and 13 points, respectively. All-conference first teamer Creavalle was fourth on the team with his 12 points on four goals and four assists, while sophomore A.J. Nelson's (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) four goals and three assists gave him 11 in his sophomore season in a Knights uniform.


Tickets for Thursday's NCAA Tournament game between the UCF men's soccer team and USF are now available. Fans can log on to or to purchase tickets online or by calling the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000.

Tickets for youth (2-17), seniors (55+) and college students with ID are all $5, while adult tickets are $8. All tickets are general admission at the UCF Soccer Complex.

Fans attending the game are asked to park in Garage D. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. with kick-off set for 5 p.m.



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