The school-record unbeaten streak. The American Athletic Conference regular season title. The No. 1 seed for the league tournament. The program’s first undefeated conference season since 1999.
On paper, it is what the No. 15/17 UCF women’s soccer team (15-2-2, 8-0-1) was playing for Sunday in its 1-0 victory at SMU, but it isn’t what head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak asked her team to focus on before they headed onto Westcott Field.
“I think sometimes we can all get caught up in breaking records and the results and winning championships. Obviously we need to be motivated by that because we are all competitors, but I feel our edge is that we are inspired and motivated by one another because we have such a strong bond and family. I wanted them to focus on fighting for one another, encouraging one another, staying positive for one another.
“Based on the teams that I’ve been on that have won championships, it has always come down to little things and how tight the group is and how willing they are to play for one another. If you do that, that result that you want so badly should be there. Since we got the result that we wanted, I do think that the little things mattered today.”
Neither team gained the upper hand in the scoreless first half as both came away with just two shots on goal.
Although they had several scoring opportunities after the break, the only one the Knights needed happened in the 47th minute.
Junior forward Tatiana Coleman’s cross into the box found freshman Kayla Adamek, and she tapped it in to the back left corner of the net for her third game-winner of the season.
“I saw Tati sprinting down the line, so I knew she was going to put it in. I just tried to get in the right spot, and she practically gave me the goal,” Adamek said. “Winning the regular season is one of the best feelings in the world. I hope we take it to the next level.”
With 13 minutes to go, UCF goalkeeper Lianne Maldonado came up with a big deflection of Courtney Smith’s attempt from the left side, sending the ball over the crossbar to keep the Mustangs out of the net and secure the Knights’ ninth shutout of the year and 15th-straight unbeaten match.
Thanks to a first-round bye from their No. 1 seed, UCF will host its American Championship quarterfinal matchup at 1 p.m. on Nov. 3 against the winner of the No.8/No. 9 match being held at the UCF Soccer Complex on Nov. 1. Tickets are available for purchase now through UCFKnights.com.