BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (UCFKnights.com) - Despite controlling possession for much of the match, the Knights fell at Northwestern, 1-0, on a goal that was scored in the 81st minute. UCF held advantages in shots (15-7) and corners (5-2).
The match was played at Toyota Park, the home of the Chicago Fire. Former Knight Sean Johnson, who recently was called up to the U.S. Men's National Team, is the Fire's goalkeeper.
"This is a good group and we played a very good Northwestern team that is very organized," head coach Bryan Cunningham said. "It was very difficult for us to get behind them. We played well enough to win tonight, but unfortunately, we gave up a late goal and were on the wrong end of the result."
The Northwestern (2-2-1) goal came with nine minutes remaining in the match as Jake Roberge headed in a goal off a pass from Joey Calistri. The setup came from a throw in by Cole Missimo.
The Knights (1-3-0) fired two shots in the final eight minutes and the Wildcats' goalkeeper Zak Alen preserved the shutout with his fourth save in the 89th minute.
"We dominated in possession of the ball and were being creative in moving and shifting them," Cunningham said. "It was unfortunate that we were settling for shots from a distance vs. trying to penetrate them inside the penalty area and create havoc in front of the goalkeeper."
Sophomore midfielder Matias Pyysalo paced the squad with three shots, while sophomore midfielder Walker Dawkins and freshman defender Joel Vartiainen had two each. The Knights totaled 14 shots in the match, but only four were on target.
MAN OF THE MATCH
- Senior Mason Miller was inserted at the top of the attack for the first time this season.
- The Dallas, Texas, native has primarily played in the midfield, but has also dropped back on the back line.
- He recorded one shot, which came off a header in the final five minutes.
"Mason can play any positions for us because he is a worker," Cunningham said. "By putting him up top, he sets the tone for our pressure and the work rate for the rest of the group. He is a warrior and a good leader that leads by example. It was good for the rest of the group to feed off of him."
- The Knights tallied eight shots, while both teams each had two on goal.
- Pyysalo paced the squad with two shots, while six Knights registered one each.
- Vartiainen, a Kuopio, Finland, native, made his first career start on the backline.
- UCF takes part in Citronaut Knight on Friday with an 8 p.m. start against Grand Canyon. The soccer doubleheader begins at 5:30 p.m. with the women's team taking on Georgetown
- The first 200 fans that stay for both matches receive a special Citronaut scarf.