Two set pieces lifted the No. 18 UCF women’s soccer team to a 2-0 win over Temple on Thursday’s crisp, fall afternoon.
Senior Alex Piercy played a part in both goals, scoring the first and assisting the second to extend the Knights’ win streak to 10-consecutive matches – the program’s longest such streak since 2009.
Piercy put her team on the board just before the eighth minute with her second game-winner of the season. A corner kick from senior Jennifer Martin got to junior Ashley Spivey first, and she managed to forward it on to Piercy, whose header bounced in past keeper Shauni Kerkhoff.
“It felt great. I’m not the tallest of the bunch but whenever I can get my head in front of the goal, I just focus on that,” Piercy said.
Martin nearly scored herself in the 22nd minute when her strike was tipped over the crossbar.
The Knights (13-2-0, 6-0-0 AAC) got one more in just before halftime, again off a corner. Piercy’s kick connected with freshman Bridget Callahan’s head for her third goal of the year as time was winding down.
“It was the last 30 seconds and I was just worried about getting the ball in the box. I was looking for our runners’ heads and just getting it somewhere in front of the six,” Piercy said. “Bridget made a great run in the box and got her head on it.”
Sophomore Karoline Heinze nearly added another when her shot ricocheted off a Temple defender and hit the crossbar.
But UCF’s two goals proved to be enough to clinch the win and the team’s 10th shutout of the season as well as its fourth in a row. For the fifth time this season, the Knights successfully held an opponent to zero shots on goal.
“Temple is a good team and they like to have a lot of numbers behind the ball. It could get frustrating, so I’m glad we were able to put one away early,” UCF head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said. “It kind of takes the pressure off, and then we felt like we could play the way we wanted to play, which I thought we did and we continued to play well throughout the game.”
UCF continues its road trip to UConn on Sunday at noon. The Huskies were picked second in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll behind the Knights.
“We have a lot of respect for UConn. They have a great team and Rachel Hill is a special player. Played for our U.S. U20 team. She has a lot of experience,” Roberts Sahaydak said. “Defensively, we’re going to have to be really sharp and have really good cover on Sunday, but I also want us to focus on our style and be able to attack with numbers.”