Oct. 27, 2007
Birmingham, Ala. ----- Junior Trey Gregory scored the game-winning goal in the 54th minute to lift UAB to an important 2-1 victory over the UCF Knights in men's soccer action at West Campus Field Saturday night. Not only did the victory snap an eight game winless streak, but the Blazers positioned themselves for a berth to the 2007 Conference USA Championship, hosted by UAB on Nov. 14-18.
"That was a great win," UAB head coach Mike Getman said. "I thought we played well throughout the contest and I am very happy with our performance tonight. We overcame some adversity, stuck together and fought through it. In the end, we were able to earn a good victory."
The Blazers (6-9-1, 1-5 C-USA) move a half game ahead of UCF (4-10-1, 0-5-1) for the final spot in the C-USA Championship. However, Getman knows his team still has a lot of work left.
"It feels great to get this win, but at the same time, we still have a lot left to do," Getman said. "What we did tonight was we are now able to control our own destiny and put whether we make the championship in our own hands."
The Blazers wasted no time getting on the board, as junior midfielder Derek Rios found the back of the net at the 11:28 mark for his fourth goal of the campaign. Rios received a pass from junior Frank Brown, and blistered a shot from 22-yards. The shot sailed past UCF's Sean Johnson and into the back of the net for the one-goal lead.
However, the Knights quickly responded less than four minutes later, as Matt Luzunaris finished off a loose ball in the UAB box to even things up at 1-1. Luzunaris was on the end of a mad scramble in front of the UAB net, as several Blazers had an opportunity to clear the ball away, but could not get the job done. Luzunaris was able to gather the loose ball and strike a bullet into the top of the net at the 15:28 mark.
But it was the Blazers who got the last laugh in the 54th minute of play. Brown played a cross which found the feet of freshman Kevin Sawchak
. The Atlanta, Ga. native hit a shot that Johnson saved, but Gregory was right there to finish it off into the back of the net to give his team the lead for good.
Even with the one goal lead, the game was far from over, as senior Joe Klosterman received a second yellow card just two minutes after UAB took the lead, which forced the Blazers to play a man short for the final 35 minutes. However, the defense stepped up and did not allow a shot throughout the entire second half.
The contest was one of the most physical games of the season for UAB, as it featured a combined 38 fouls, seven yellow cards and Klosterman's red card.
Getman feels part of the reason for the success was the return of several starters who missed several games with injury. In fact, Saturday's game was the first time in over a month the team fielded its regular starting 11.
"I thought we did a tremendous job defensively in the second half," Getman said. "We continued to fight and we made our own breaks in this game. I thought Dejan played a great game and showed the type of player he can be. It was real nice to have him back in the lineup."
The Blazers will next play their final regular season home, as the Memphis Tigers come to town on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. It will mark the final regular season home game for Klosterman, who is UAB's lone senior this season. All students who bring a valid student ID will receive free food and a free gift at the game. The game can also be followed live on gametracker.