The dramatic victory over No. 4 North Carolina on Friday means UCF’s women’s soccer team is undefeated at home and pumped for the rest of the season.
“This win is definitely an accomplishment to be proud of, but we don’t stop here,” said head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak. “We will build off this experience as we go after all the goals we want to accomplish this season, including advancing to the College Cup.”
There are few situations in athletics as dramatic as overtime in collegiate soccer. With the “golden goal” rule in effect, the moment either team scores, the match ends instantaneously, delivering pure euphoria for the victor and agony for the defeated.
With the score deadlocked 1-1 at the end of regulation of Friday’s match against No. 4 North Carolina, UCF head coach Roberts Sahaydak huddled the women’s soccer team together on the field and reminded the players of one of the goals they set during preseason:
Remain undefeated at home.
No exceptions. No asterisks. Especially against North Carolina.
So after time stopped in the 105th minute when Christine Creighton‘s shot connected with the upper left corner of the net, the Knights rushed the field and the dogpile cleared, Roberts Sahaydak huddled up her team again.
“This is seriously the best win I have ever been a part of – I’m not joking,” said the World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist.
The team didn’t let her finish. They began jumping and a chant broke out: “Tiff! Tiff! Tiff! Tiff!”
Her words spoke to the magnitude of the moment.
North Carolina women’s soccer is considered one of the top dynasties in any collegiate or professional sport. Under the direction of Hall of Famer Anson Dorrance, the Tar Heels have captured 22 of the 36 national championships in the history of the game.
Prior to Aug. 25, UCF and UNC had squared off 21 times in 36 years, and the Knights had yet to notch a mark in the win column. They came close in 2011 with a dramatic finish in the NCAA Sweet 16, advancing to the Elite 8 in penalty kicks, but like all postseason shootouts, that memorable match is officially entered in the record books as a tie.
On Friday, UCF became the 31st program to record a victory against UNC since 1979. The outcome marked the Tar Heels’ 68th loss ever, which averages out to less than two losses a season.
So the win, which also marked the Knights’ first victory over a top-five opponent since 2009, won’t soon be forgotten.
“It was, by far, the best experience I’ve had in four years,” senior forward Kayla Adamek said
“It’s hard to compare to anything else.”
“And what made the victory even sweeter, echoed senior defender Saga Fredriksson, was that it was a total team effort.”
Both Adamek and Fredriksson pointed to the culture that the Sahaydaks have created at UCF as a big reason for the victory.
“Over the past four years, Coach has really tried to create this culture that I really think we have this year,” Adamek said. “I think that’s what makes our team so special. We definitely wanted to return the favor and get the win for her.”
Roberts Sahaydak, who played for the Tar Heels from 1995-98 and won two national championships in Chapel Hill, is the first UNC alumna head coach to beat Dorrance, who has notched all 811 of his wins at Carolina.
“(Coach Dorrance) is a mentor of mine,” Roberts Sahaydak said. “I grew up playing for him. He was my first national team coach. He told me (at the end of the game) that my players play like me. That is the best compliment that I can get because (Coach Dorrance) always said that my best quality was playing with my heart. He saw that in my team tonight.”
UCF won’t be back in action at home until Sept. 8, but with a trip to Arizona and Arizona State on the docket over Labor Day weekend, the Knights will use the confidence-builder against UNC as they shift focus to their next challenge.