UCF goalkeeper Connie Organ left the UCF Soccer Complex as a rock star on Sunday afternoon after coming up with the two biggest saves of her career in extended penalty kicks to clinch the first American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship.
Organ was hoisted into the air by her teammates as fans rushed the field to celebrate UCF’s dramatic decision over Rutgers and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“I didn’t know that they could pick me up. I thought I’d be too heavy. It was awesome and surreal and I enjoyed it,” Organ said all smiles after the game. “[Winning the championship] was one of our goals the entire season. It’s awesome that we’ll be down in the record books for this. It definitely couldn’t get more dramatic than that.”
After a combined 220 minutes of scoreless action in Friday night’s semifinal contests, UCF and Rutgers battled through 110 more.
Although the Knights (16-2-4) controlled possession for much of the game, they couldn’t break through on their 10 shots on goal and once again were faced with a chance to come out on top in a shootout.
Organ subbed in for senior keeper Lianne Maldonado, who had two saves during regulation to keep UCF’s 11th shutout of the year intact.
“I was ready for it the entire game just in case it came down to it,” Organ said. “I kept running along the sideline just to stay warm but I knew it was my role and I was ready to complete it.”
Rutgers’ Erica Skroski made good on the first PK and midfielder Jennifer Martin matched. Senior defender Ashley Nicol hit the post on UCF’s second attempt while the next three Scarlet Knights all found the back of the net.
Confronted with a 4-3 deficit in the series, Organ stepped in the net with Maggie Morash set to take Rutgers’ fifth and potentially game-deciding attempt. Organ went with her gut and made the save to keep UCF alive.
Alex Major, Amanda Wilkin, Taylor Townsend and Sophie Howard had no problem netting the Knights’ next four shots. Rutgers sent Madison Tiernan up to face Organ, who dived to her left to clinch the first tournament title on UCF’s home field since 2001.
“I’m proud that the team stuck together and persevered,” UCF head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said. “The two times Connie needed to come up big, she did. Connie is going to get all the attention for that, which she deserves, but Lianne got us to that point. I have to say both of our goalkeepers, although they had two different roles this weekend, they both were outstanding.”
With the win, the Knights extended their school-record unbeaten streak to 17-straight and became the first team since 1996-97 (UNC-Greensboro) to win conference tournament titles in back to back years in two different conferences.
UCF junior Tatiana Coleman was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player and to the All-Tournament Team along with Howard, Organ and freshman Lena Petermann.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will broadcast live on NCAA.com at 4:30 p.m. Monday. UCF will make its 18th NCAA Championship appearance and seventh in a row.