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UCF Men’s Soccer Throttles Temple, Faces SMU for American Championship

#5 Knights face a familiar foe at home on Saturday with national implications

Photo: Derek Warden

The UCF Knights Men’s Soccer team blitzed the Temple Owls in the American Championship Semifinals on Wednesday night 5-0, setting the stage for yet another high-stakes meeting between UCF and the SMU Mustangs on the pitch this coming Saturday.

Cal Jennings posted his first hat trick of the 2019 season, and the Knights used additional tallies from Itzik Efraim and Mauricio Villalobos to reach the final margin:

UCF (14-1-2, #3 RPI, #5 United Soccer Coaches), now faces SMU in the American Championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the UCF Track and Soccer Complex. It’s the third time in as many seasons that these two programs have met in the conference final.

SMU (#9 RPI, #10 United Soccer Coaches) beat South Florida 2-1 on a Golden Goal in double overtime to advance:

Familiar Futbol Foes

The history between SMU and UCF on the pitch has taken quite the intense turn over the past three seasons, with five meetings, including two of them in the American Championship. SMU has a 3-1-1 advantage over the Knights, but three of the five meetings have gone to extra time.

In 2017, UCF lost to SMU twice by a 2-1 score, including in The American Championship in Dallas on an overtime Golden Goal:

Last year, the Knights broke through with a 2-0 win in the regular season, but in the conference final, this time in Orlando, SMU again came out on top 5-4 in PKs after 120 minutes:

In the regular season meeting in Dallas this year, a scoreless first half gave way to a wild second half, with the game ending in a 3-3 draw:

The competitiveness between the two sides is matched only by their respect for one another, as evidenced by the post-game greetings between UCF head coach Scott Calabrese and SMU head coach Kevin Hudson.

UCF is aiming for its first conference tournament title since 2004 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Knights are a mortal lock to make the NCAA Tournament regardless of the outcome, but with a victory they would be well within the mix for a top-four national seed come NCAA Selection Monday.

SMU is looking for its third consecutive title in The American.

Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday at the UCF Track and Soccer Complex. The game will also be streamed on ESPN+.