The UCF women’s soccer team is just one match away from winning another Conference USA title after shutting out SMU, 3-0, Sunday at the UCF Soccer Complex. The first-place Knights (12-3-3, 7-1-2) will close out the regular-season at home Friday against Southern Miss at 8 p.m. as they are looking for their second-straight C-USA crown and fourth in six seasons in the league.
“That was a solid 3-0 win, and we played much better in the second half even though we were up 2-0 in the first half,” said head coach Amanda Cromwell. “We came out in the second half and just shut them down across the board. I’m proud of the shutout and we had some beautiful goals today.”
With 23 points in the league standings, UCF moved closer to guaranteeing itself a first-round bye in the C-USA Championship in Orlando Nov. 3-7. If Memphis defeats Houston Sunday, then the Knights and Tigers will both secure first-round byes.
The Knights outshot the Mustangs (11-6-2, 6-4-0) 23-6 on Sunday, including a 14-2 cushion in the final 45 minutes. That marked the third-consecutive match UCF amassed at least 20 shots. Keeper Aline Reis needed to make just one save for her fourth shutout of the season and 17th of her career.
C-USA’s leading point producer, Tishia Jewell collected two more assists to give her 12 on the year and 32 total points. The 12 assists rank fourth on UCF’s single-season chart (record stands at 17 by Cally Howell in 2000).
With a lot on the line, UCF broke out right away and took a 1-0 lead just 1:11 into the match. Following a pass from Jewell, Katie Jackson could have cranked a 24-yard shot but decided to move closer to the goal. That paid off as she dribbled on the right side and sent a cross into the box where Kim Newsome easily headed it in for her eighth of the season.
The Mustangs were hoping to even things up only to have Newsome get in the way of a pass near the UCF box. And the Knights would take advantage of that turnover by dribbling the length of the pitch to make it 2-0 in the 30th minute. Following her steal, Newsome began the run by passing it over to Kristina Trujic as the Knights crossed midfield. She would then give it over to Jewell, who ultimately passed it over to Brianna Schooley outside the 18. Waiting for a good look, Schooley sent it inside the box where Trujic finished her sprint down the field by heading in her third goal of 2010 from 13 yards out.
SMU’s best chance in the first half at getting a goal came with 23 minutes remaining but Shelby Hartweck’s shot to the far left side of the net struck the post.
With a 2-0 advantage heading into the second half, the Knights wanted to put it away immediately and did so in the 52nd minute. Controlling possession at midfield, Bianca Joswiak delivered a deep pass to Nicolette Radovcic who beat the keeper on the right side for her third goal of the campaign.
The Knights put it on cruise control the rest of the way, allowing just one shot on goal in the final half. That sets up a Senior Day Friday at the UCF Soccer Complex where the Knights could once again lift the C-USA regular-season championship trophy over their heads with a victory.