On Wednesday Nov. 13, the American Athletic Conference championship semifinals were played where two teams advanced to the final.
SMU (16-1-1, 5-1-1 the American) played USF (11-6-1, 4-3 the American) away where they gained a 2-1 win in overtime. The first goal of the match occurred in the 14th minute by Mustangs midfielder Nicky Hernandez, his fifth goal in 17 appearances. The Bulls struggled to equalize the match until the 76th minute when forward Adrian Billhardt scored after being given a penalty, his sixth goal in 17 appearances. The match went into overtime where in the first half, SMU only had two attempted shots compared to USF’s zero. In the second half the Mustangs attempted four more shots, and on the fifth defender Brandon Terwege scored the game-winning goal, his second goal of the season in 15 appearances.
UCF (14-2-2, 6-0-1 the American) hosted Temple (8-8-2, 3-2-2 the American) where they kept a 5-0 clean sheet. The Knights scored three goals in the first half: The first by defender Itzik Efraim, his first goal of the season, in the 20th minute, the second by forward Cal Jennings in the 30th minute and the third by midfielder Mauricio Villalobos, his first goal of the season, in the 35th minute. In the second half, Jennings scored twice to secure his hat trick as well as the victory in the 68th minute and in the 73rd minute.
On Saturday, SMU traveled to UCF to play in the championship final where the Mustangs got a 1-0 victory. The one and only goal of the match occurred at the 24th minute by defender Eddie Munjoma, his 11th goal in 18 games. The Knights attempted various times in the second half to equalize, having 13 shots compared to SMU’s three, but was unable to get a goal on the score sheet.
Following its 1-0 victory, SMU became champions for the third season in a row. They are now tied with Tulsa for most championships with three titles.
SMU’s top goal scorer of the 2019 season was senior forward Garrett Mclaughlin. McLaughlin played in every match for the Mustangs in which he scored 15 goals in 9 out of 18 matches. His most iconic match came against Cincinnati on Oct. 26 where he scored five goals. Other top scorers from SMU include senior Eddie Munjoma with 11 goals in 18 games, sophomore midfielder Gabriel Costa, who had seven goals in 14 games and sophomore Knut Ahlander, who had seven goals in 18 games.
USF advances to the NCAA tournament for the first round while No. 8 SMU and No. 9 UCF have a bye and advance to the second round. USF will play Thursday against Louisville while UCF will play the winner of the Missouri State vs. Denver match and SMU will play the winner of the NC State vs. Coastal Carolina match on Sunday.