“Not much separated No. 1-8, and it’s crazy how competitive this conference is this year. We went on the road for some very tough games against UAB, Memphis, Colorado College and UTEP and we were 2-1-1 in those matches and that was huge,” said head coach Amanda Cromwell. “We were disappointed in the loss to Colorado College, but I hand it to our players for turning things around. Some of our seniors took that leadership role and that’s why we won the conference.”
Entering the week with a RPI of No. 16, the Knights are now in perfect position to earn at least an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th time in school history. However they will be searching for C-USA’s automatic bid instead when they will be the No. 1 seed for the C-USA Championship in Orlando Nov. 3-7. With a first-round bye in the six-team field, the Knights will play either No. 4 seed SMU or No. 5 seed Rice Friday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. The finals are set for Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m. live on CBS College Sports.
Friday also witnessed UCF go over the 5,000-fan mark for the first time in program history as 885 fans came out for the doubleheader (the men’s soccer team played UAB before the women’s match). In 11 matches this year, 5,858 fans ventured out to the UCF Soccer Complex to break the single-season record of 4,601 set last year.
Lauren Halbert, Kacie Horner, Amanda Martorana, Jaclyn Meade, Kim Newsome, Christina Petrucco and Brianna Schooley were all honored before the match, and all seven seniors got the start Friday vs. Southern Miss (3-14-2, 0-10-1).
Schooley tallied three assists in the victory, which tied for the fourth-most in a match in UCF history. Meanwhile, Martorana racked up six points on two goals and a pair of assists, and took nine shots against the Golden Eagles.
“It was an awesome atmosphere tonight, but we’re taking it one step at a time,” said Schooley. “We’re regular-season champions now but we haven’t been conference tournament champs before and that’s going to be our next goal. We’re going to take the next week to prepare, practice hard and use our home-field advantage to come out strong next Friday.”
Meade needed to make just two saves in net for her second shutout in three starts this season, as the Knights led in shots, 33-6. During the current four-match winning streak, UCF has outscored its opponents 16-1, and Friday’s 6-0 victory was its largest shutout win since a 6-0 triumph over Houston in 2008 (those two matches were the only occasions in which the Knights scored six goals in a match since 2005).
With a title on the line, it was a pair of seniors who sparked the attack vs. the Golden Eagles and it quickly gave the Knights a 1-0 lead. With possession in the center of the pitch, Schooley found Newsome sprinting in on the left side, and after dribbling into the box, Newsome calmly hit the back of the net in the fourth minute for her ninth goal on the year.
The lead would then be doubled in the 14th minute, and this time three seniors combined for the goal. Following a pass from Newsome, Martorana fired a shot that was blocked in front, however Horner stepped in for the rebound and delivered her second-career goal and her first since the 2007 campaign.
The Black and Gold completed the half by making it 4-0 in the 40th minute, as Schooley sent it in for Martorana who received it perfectly and cranked a shot past keeper Lindsey Schwarner for her second goal of the night.
With a 4-0 advantage in the second half, the Knights settled down but still lit up the scoreboard in the 74th minute, where Katie Jackson put a corner kick into the box and after passes from Katy Ling and Martorana, Marissa Diggs drove home her second goal of the year.
And to cap off the evening, Katy Ling registered her second goal of 2010 by getting in the way of keeper Hannah Vanderboegh as she came out of the box to try and clear it only to have Ling intercept it and be all alone to make it 6-0 in the 81st minute.
With the regular-season completed, UCF will turn its attention to the C-USA Championship held at the UCF Soccer Complex next week. Ticket information and more details can be found on the women’s soccer page at UCFAthletics.com or by heading to ConferenceUSA.com.
C-USA Championship Schedule at UCF
Wednesday, Nov. 3
Friday, Nov. 5
Sunday, Nov. 7