Stacie Hubbard scored twice off long free kicks in a 1:29 span late in the first half to help lift the No. 25 UCF women’s soccer team to a 4-1 win over UTEP Friday at the UCF Soccer Complex. Nicolette Radovcic and Tishia Jewell also hit the back of the net to improve the Knights’ record to 7-2-2 overall and 2-1-0 in Conference USA.
“Getting two goals right before halftime was huge,” said head coach Amanda Cromwell. “And we came out in the second half and took 17 shots. That’s a lot of shots against a very good team. They are very athletic and hard to break down. But we came back after they scored on a PK and got two more goals so I’m happy.”
The Knights finished with a 26-12 advantage in shots against the Miners (8-3-1, 2-1-0), including that 17-shot performance in the final 45 minutes of play. UCF keeper Aline Reis completed her evening with five saves for the victory.
UTEP may have taken the first two shots of the match, however it was UCF which controlled the action in the early stages of the first half. Knights’ striker Kayla Darden sparked the attack with three shots in the opening 45 minutes, while Jewell added two shots for the Black and Gold. One of the best scoring chances occurred with less than seven minutes remaining as Jennifer Martin placed two quick shots on goal however UTEP keeper Sarah Dilling was there for the save each time.
With UCF continuing to pressure the UTEP backline, the Miners were forced to commit a foul which provided Hubbard with a free kick from 35 yards out and to the left of the net. With her teammates set, Hubbard glanced at the top right corner of the net and decided to rip a perfect shot out of the reach of a diving Dilling to give the Knights a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute.
And making fans wonder if they just witnessed a bit of déjà vu, Hubbard duplicated that goal in the 44th minute, this time from just over 40 yards away. When she raised her arms in celebration after another highlight-reel goal, the Knights were up 2-0 and feeling good entering the halftime break.
That feeling did not go away when the whistle blew to start the second half either. Following a quick shot from UTEP, UCF amassed four corner kicks and six shots with three on goal in the first eight minutes of the stanza. Yet UTEP survived the offensive flurry, and eventually gained possession inside the 18. Thanks to a UCF foul, the Miners received a penalty kick and Tess Hall converted to cut UCF’s lead in half in the 61st minute.
With a little momentum, UTEP attempted to claw its way back into the match only to have UCF answer with a crucial goal in the 80th minute. Taking a pass from Jewell, Radovcic was one-on-one with Dilling and easily fired a shot into the lower right corner for a much-needed insurance marker. Putting it away, Jewell got in the goal column as well with her fourth of the year with just 13 seconds to play.