Two goals in a span of 3:14 in the second half allowed the No. 23 UCF women’s soccer team to upend Marshall, 2-1, Sunday in Orlando on Bright House Sports Network. Senior Amanda Martorana tied it at 1-1 on a header in the 62nd minute before freshman Marissa Diggs scored the game-winner off a corner kick in the 66th minute to help the Knights improve their record to 7-2-1 on the season and 2-0-0 in Conference USA.
“(At halftime associate head coach) Colby Hale was telling us how we have the talent but if don’t work hard we can’t win,” said Diggs. “So we really wanted to grind it out, and that’s something our team says a lot.”
Diggs’ game-winner against the Thundering Herd (3-4-2, 1-1-0) was her first-collegiate goal as she came up from the backline on the corner kick. She became the 11th-different Knight to register a goal this year.
“Obviously scoring gives you a boost of energy so it wasn’t surprising that we scored two together like that,” said head coach Amanda Cromwell. “Amanda Martorana did a great job as it was a great free kick in from Christina Petrucco. And we scored on a corner as well so that’s good to see.”
The Knights completed the afternoon with a 20-7 advantage in shots and an 8-0 margin in corner kicks. The last time the Black and Gold did not allow a corner kick was against Florida Gulf Coast Aug. 21, 2009. In goal, Aline Reis made three saves in the first half while the Knights’ defense allowed just one shot, which was not on net, in the second half.
Looking for its first win in its sixth try against UCF, Marshall struck first in the 14th minute on a Megan Tabler goal from 30 yards out. The Knights would have plenty of chances throughout the half to get on the board as well, but placed just three of 12 shots on net, as Marshall keeper Lexa Hughes made the save each time.
The Thundering Herd seemed to close all passing lanes for the Knights as the match drew on, but finally with less than 30 minutes the Knights started to connect. Earning a free kick close to midfield, Petrucco delivered a ball into the box where Martorana timed her header perfectly to help UCF pull even at 1-1. It was Martorana’s second of the season.
And less than four minutes later, the Knights kept pressuring Marshall, ultimately getting a corner-kick opportunity on the right side. Katie Jackson stepped up and dropped it inside the 18 where a mad scramble ensued. After it came off of Bolinsky, Diggs found the loose ball on the doorstep and quickly pounced on it for the 2-1 lead.
Marshall’s best chance to tie it late occurred off a free kick with less than two minutes remaining, and is it bounced around near the goal, the Knights managed to clear it away to secure the victory.
UCF will go back on the road next weekend when it travels to No. 25 Memphis Oct. 1 and UAB Oct. 3.