ORLANDO, Fla. – Finding the net in the opening minutes of each half, the FGCU men’s soccer team handed unbeaten No. 8 UCF its first loss of the year in a 2-1 victory on Saturday at the UCF Soccer Complex. In a level game, junior midfielder Andres Navas (Miami, Fla./Sunset Senior HS/Florida International) provided the decisive goal in the 49th minute on an assist from senior Francesco DiStefano (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola HS).
“It is obviously an important win for us, there’s no doubt about it,” said fifth-year head coach Bob Butehorn. “To win on the road against a very talented team like UCF takes hard work and focus, and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort our guys put forth today. Hopefully, we can use the momentum from this win to propel us forward as we prepare for our first conference match next week.”
Competing on Saturday afternoon following Friday’s postponement, the victory improved the Eagles record to 3-2-2 on the season. The win marked the second time in program history that the Green and Blue have beaten a top 10 opponent, as the Eagles shutout then-No. 5 Ohio State, 1-0, in front of a record crowd of 1,322 at the FGCU Soccer Complex last season. FGCU also improved to 3-2 all-time against opponents ranked in the top 25.
The Knights fall to 6-1-1 in the losing effort and now stand a 3-1 versus the Atlantic Sun Conference this season.
The Eagles found the back in just the ninth minute of play to take an early 1-0 lead. A ball played into the box found its way under the arm of UCF goalkeeper Shawn Doyle, setting up senior midfielder Cristian Raudales (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee HS) who put it home for his second goal of the year. Junior Deion Jones (Tampa, Fla./Freedom HS) and sophomore Ryan Price (Melbourne Beach, Fla./Melbourne HS) were each credited with an assist on the play.
UCF would level the game shortly before the intermission, sending a shot to the back of the net in the 35th minute. The Knights’ Ben Hunt put home the rebound shot for his second goal, with an assist issued to Steven Lamberta.
With the score level at 1-1 at the break, the Knights held an 11-6 shot advantage and slim 2-1 edge in the corner kick column.
Just minutes into the second frame the Eagles provided the eventual game-winner, putting another goal on the board in the 49th minute. A well-played cross into the box by DiStefano was tapped home by Navas to put the Eagles out in front 2-1.
Forced to make a trio of saves in the contest, redshirt senior goalkeeper Adam Glick (Leola, Pa./Conestoga Valley HS) has played every minute in goal this season and picked up his 29th career victory in net. UCF’s Doyle was hit with the loss after allowing both goals, while recording four saves.
For the game, the Knights finished with a 17-9 edge in shots and a 9-4 lead in the corner kick battle.
With two goals and one assist to this point, Navas and DiStefano now sit alongside senior midfielder Josey Portillo (Metairie, La./Grace King HS) (1 goal, 3 assists) for the team lead in points with five. Meanwhile, Raudales joins Navas and DiStefano with a team-best two goals this season.
The Eagles will now focus on the Atlantic Sun Conference opener as they prepare to face Stetson on Friday, Sept. 30 in DeLand, Fla. beginning at 7 p.m. The Hatters enter their Sunday contest with George Washington holding a 3-4 record, having defeated then-No. 15 Penn State, 3-2. Live stats, results and recaps from all FGCU contests will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.