Late collapse sees men’s soccer fall to UCF in road duel

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of North Florida (UNF) men’s soccer team put on a strong showing Monday night against the University of Central Florida (UCF), but fell short late to suffer a 2-1 loss. 

The Ospreys entered Monday’s matchup seeking revenge for last season’s 5-0 loss to the UCF Knights. A weather delay caused by rain pushed kickoff back by just over half an hour. This didn’t seem to have much of an effect on UNF, who got off to a very impressive start.

In the early minutes, the Ospreys dominated possession, but this didn’t last too long. UCF quickly countered on a breakaway that ended in a heavy challenge that led to a corner kick for the Knights. A golden opportunity presented itself, but slipped away on a misaimed header by midfielder AJ Seals. 

UNF then produced a pair of close calls, with defender LJ Estes almost curling one in near the top of the post in the ninth minute. Another close call came in the match’s 27th minute, when UNF midfielder Angus Taylor missed a chance for a tap-in off of a brilliantly-placed pass by midfielder Scott Beeks. 

Soccer player dribbles ball up field.
UNF forward Bryson Smith played a key role in the pesky attack that kept UCF fighting all match long. (Justin Nedrow)

While the Ospreys weren’t getting anything in terms of scoring, their offensive attack far outweighed that of UCF in the first half. UNF played a very smart first half, producing shots on goal to keep the Knights on their toes, but also staying vigilant on defense.

The match entered halftime all knotted up at 0-0. The score didn’t indicate a thriller, but the first 45 minutes produced plenty of exciting chances, with the Ospreys outshooting the Knights 7-2. 

UCF may not have put a shot on target during the first half, but they quickly put UNF goalkeeper Padraic Gilley to work as UCF forward Gino Vivi sent a shot just inches over the bar. The Knights continued to attack on offense, with UCF forward Lucca Dourado nearly finding the back of the net. 

Following an incredible save by Gilley, the Ospreys responded immediately, intercepting a UCF corner kick. Thanks to some skilled dribbling, UNF Midfielder Angus Taylor found himself open in front of the goal, putting it past UCF goalkeeper Juanvi Muñoz for the game’s first goal.

Now leading 1-0, UNF didn’t let off the gas. The Ospreys appeared to be in full control of the match, but the domination was only a matter of time. Just over 10 minutes later, a header from UCF defender Maël Haise found the back of the net to tie the match 1-1. UNF was largely in control for most of the evening, but the momentum was swinging in the Knights’ favor. 

It became apparent that the Ospreys were running low on energy, an issue heightened by the hot and humid conditions brought about by the earlier rainfall. This was most evident when UNF defender Luke Barforosh was taken by surprise, with UCF midfielder Mauricio Villalobos Vega stealing the ball and scoring the game-winning goal in the 76th minute.

Player kicking soccer ball
With the exception of the costly error, Barforosh played an incredible game defensively, despite taking a painful shot to the head early in the match. (Justin Nedrow)

The Ospreys had a few solid chances to even the score in the final minutes, but nothing materialized. While a 2-1 loss is an extremely disappointing result following a strong performance, it’s nothing for the squad to sulk over. UNF was in control for the first 60 minutes of the match, they just couldn’t close it out.

UNF now drops to 0-2 on the season, with their next date coming in the form of another road game. The Ospreys will travel to Miami next Tuesday to face nationally-ranked Florida International University. The Panthers currently sit 18th in the country and will be a tough task for a UNF squad looking to find its footing. These challenging road affairs will only serve to strengthen the Ospreys, something that will prove valuable come conference play.


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