The UCF women’s flag football team left no doubt last weekend about which team reigns supreme at the NIRSA Championship Series National Flag Football Tournament hosted at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.
UCF’s team “Check On It” used a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat Florida A&M University 7-6 to successfully defend last year’s national championship.
UCF’s suffocating defense was the story of the tournament. The team started with back-to-back shutouts, combining for 80 points, in preliminary action with wins over Campbell University and Ferris State. In the tournament round, UCF continued the tough defense with shutout wins over North Carolina A&T in the quarterfinals and Howard University in the semifinals.
UCF outscored opponents 119-6 during the three-day event, giving up its first and only score in the championship game when FAMU took a 6-0 lead late in the first half.
Senior center and corner, Dannica Mosher, said UCF’s defense set the tone for this year’s title.
“Giving up only 6 points is quite the accomplishment and I thank our incredible defense for that,” she said.
Late in the fourth quarter, tournament MVP Tatianne Dearaujo, reached the end zone to tie the game at 6-6. UCF quarterback Keimy Milanes then completed a pass to Amanda Hall for a successful point after touchdown and the lead.
FAMU did get the ball back with time on the clock, but Hall intercepted a pass to stop the Rattlers’ threat with less than 2 minutes to go.
Check On It was led by Milanes, who suffered a serious knee injury on the first day of last year’s tournament, Dearaujo and Charlene Thome. NIRSA honored all three women as part of the All-Tournament team. The team is coached by UCF graduate Brandon Baroody, a NIRSA Championship Series Flag Football Hall of Famer.
UCF now has 42 All-Americans in the tournament’s history and Dearaujo is the 17th UCF student to be named tournament MVP.
“What’s so special about this team is we’re much more than that, these girls and Brandon are family,” she said.
Shane Land, assistant director of Intramural Sports at the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center, credits the team’s hard work ethic for the sustained success.
“They practice and play in tournaments year round in preparation for the national tournament and that work ethic is what has led to their success,” he said.
UCF men’s, women’s and co-rec flag football teams have now won 12 national titles since the first tournament in 1979, the most flag football titles of any school in North America.
Baroody has been a part of nine of UCF’s 12 titles as a player or coach.
UCF’s Co-Rec Team also made the final four of the tournament which also features student officials, including three from UCF: Kelsey Jones, Randy Korn and Sammie Fitzell.