C-USA Women's Soccer Quarterfinal Recaps

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Oct. 31, 2012

2012 Women's Soccer Championship Central

Semifinal matches for the 2012 C-USA Women's Soccer Championship are set for Friday at UTEP's University Field. Top-seeded Colorado College will face No. 5 seed Tulsa at 4:30 p.m. MDT, while No. 7 seed SMU will square off with No. 3 UCF. The championship title match is set for Sunday, Nov. 4, at 12 p.m. (MST) and will be aired on the CBS Sports Network. Semifinals will be streamed through the C-USA All-Access package. Conference USA's official website, www.ConferenceUSA.com, will provide updates, box scores, recaps and photos from all seven matches. There will also be updates on Conference USA's official Facebook page and Twitter account @ConferenceUSA1.

Quarterfinal #4: (3) UCF 2, (6) Memphis 0

UCF-Memphis Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Behind goals from seniors Andrea Rodrigues and Tishia Jewell as well as a stifling defensive effort, No. 20 UCF derailed five-time defending C-USA champion Memphis, 2-0, in the final quarterfinal contest of the Women's Soccer Championship at UTEP's University Field.

The Knights (15-4-1), winners of five straight, steam into the semifinals to face seventh-seed SMU at 7 p.m. Friday. UCF outshot the Tigers, 23-8, including 15-2 in tries on target. The Knights' Lianne Maldonado made one save while there was also a team save recorded. It marks the school-record-tying 13th shutout of the season for UCF.

Freshman GK Christa Strickland had a banner day in net for the Tigers (10-8-1), setting a career high for saves with 13. Her prior standard was 10.

There was a frantic pace of play to start the match, with both sides looking to attack with even the slightest space to work with. UCF had a good look early on but Bianca Joswiak's header sailed left of the target at 1:48. Memphis sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Atkins delivered a crisp ball to Diamond Simpson. Her shot bested Maldonado but was saved on the line by Nicolette Radovcic.

The Knights then outshot the Tigers 15-4, including 11-2 on target. The pressure paid off in the 15th minute, with Rodrigues skillfully curving the corner into the back of the net.

The Tigers, always dangerous on the counter attack, headed up the pitch with the intent of tying the tilt. Natalia Gomez-Junco picked up the ball past midfield, eventually chipping a try that forced Maldonado to snatch it out of the air.

UCF started the second stanza much like it had ended the first, with ample pressure. Nicol laced a shot with ample power but Strickland was up to the task. Nicol was knocking on the door again in the 56th minute, this time forcing Strickland to provide a save off a header.

Three minutes later, a foul on Memphis afforded the Knights a set piece from about 45 yards out. Jewell struck it with incredible power and accuracy, with the ball sailing over the out-stretched hands of Strickland and into the net.

The Tigers regrouped, putting immediate pressure on UCF after the kickoff. The result was a pair of corners just 43 seconds apart in the 61st minute, but Memphis couldn't get anything on net. Fifteen minutes later the Tigers generated two more chances, but the stout defense of UCF wouldn't let anything get to Maldonado. Taylor Isenhower's shot was blocked in the 76th minute while Kylie Davis fired wide at 77:01.

Quarterfinal #3: (7) SMU 3, (2) Rice 1

SMU-Rice Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Rachael Larson (41:35), Rikki Clarke (60:05) and Shelby Redman (70:44) all scored to help No. 7 seed SMU upset No. 2 seed Rice, 3-1, in the Conference USA Women's Soccer Championship quarterfinals at UTEP's University Field.

The Mustangs (9-7-4) never trailed in the contest and dance into the semifinals to face either Memphis or No. 20 UCF at 7 p.m. MT Friday. The Owls (11-7-3) played well throughout the tilt, getting a goal from C-USA Freshman of the Year Holly Hargreaves (67:11) to slice the SMU in half before the Mustangs added an insurance goal.

Rice outshot SMU, 16-10, but the Mustangs had a 6-4 edge in shots on goal. The two squads earned a total of 18 corners in the contest, with 10 of them going to the Owls. Both Rice's Amy Czyz and SMU's Lauryn Bodden registered three saves in the game.

Mallory Baum, Courtney Smith, Redman and Olivia Elliot all registered assists for the Mustangs while Lauren Hughes set up the score for Hargreaves.

There was a distinct defensive tone to the tilt early on, with SMU deploying a well-conceived offside trap to halt a promising sequence for the Owls. Rice strung together a couple of passes in the fifth minute to set up freshman forward Lauren Hughes, but her shot eased past the goal.

Marking remained tight for the next several minutes before the Mustangs began to be a bit more assertive in their attack. From just past midfield on the near sideline, Jessica Bartol delivered a diagonal ball to the far post. It found the foot of Kenzie Scovill who took a pace dribble before unleashing a low, powerful shot. Czyz reacted well with a dive to her left to stop it, and then reeled in the loose ball before the Mustangs could pounce at 13:36.

The Owls then began to pick up their pace of play, resulting in back-to-back corner kicks. SMU defended the air with vigor on the initial service, clearing it away. Rice sophomore midfielder Quinney Truong found Hayley Williams, who had set up shot in the box. She timed her jump well and redirected a header that rocketed over the crossbar at 16:48.

As the half wore on, possession remained primarily with the Owls. To SMU's credit, though, it didn't let Rice find the back of the net during the sequence. Truong laced a shot wide at 26:59, as did Gabriela Iribarne on a half-volley from about eight yards out at 31:22. Williams had the cleanest look in that stretch, but her header didn't find its home at 38:17.

The Mustangs would be rewarded for their diligence on the defensive end. Larson played a quality ball to the far post, finding a home on Baum's head. She used ample force to propel it past Czyz and into the net. Rice regrouped after the tally but couldn't get on the board before the break.

SMU attacked immediately off the kickoff to start the second half, resulting in a throw-in deep in Owl country. The ball was put into the mixer, and Scovill deftly flicked a header on target. Czyz showed off soft hands to calmly collect the point-blank try. She then used a good outlet to get the Owls back on the offensive. The effort resulted in a pair of corner kicks but could only come away with a shot off the mark from Iribarne at 49:23.

SMU looked to extend its advantage off a set piece in the 50th minute, but Czyz handled the bouncing shot from distance by Courtney Smith. Rice then went back on the attack but the try by Iribarne was just high at 53:05.

The close called loomed larger when the Mustangs did indeed push their lead out to 2-0. Smith used a long throw-in to get it to Redman, who one-touched a pass to Clarke. Clarke utilized a half volley and bested Czyz.

Rice began to send players up the pitch in greater numbers after the strike, and it paid dividends almost immediately. Hughes ripped a shot that was stopped by Bodden but she couldn't come up with the rebound. Hargreaves took advantage, hammering it home into the lower right corner.

The Owls earned a corner kick a minute later, aspiring to find the equalizer. Truong served it into the area but the Mustangs won the ball. They controlled the clearance, and initiated a counter attack.

The ball was played up the right wing to Elliot, who crossed it to the far post. Redman was all alone, and she coerced it with ease into the back of the net.

Quarterfinal #2: (5) Tulsa 1, (4) East Carolina 0 (OT)

Tulsa-East Carolina Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Tulsa senior forward Rebeca Handley headed home her team-leading eighth goal of the season to propel TU to a 1-0 overtime victory against East Carolina in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Conference USA Women's Soccer Championship at UTEP's University Field Wednesday.

Junior midfielder Jordan O'Brien played a beautiful ball off a corner kick to set up Handley's golden goal at the 95:48 mark.

The fifth-seeded Golden Hurricane (12-5-3) will now face top seed Colorado College at 4:30 p.m. MT Friday in the semifinals. The Pirates (10-7-3) bow out of the league's pinnacle event after a solid 2012 season.

Both sides registered 17 shots in the tilt, though TU held advantages in shots on goal (6-2) and corner kicks (10-1). ECU junior goalkeeper Christian Cordero delivered five saves while the Golden Hurricane's Hayley Harryman made a pair of saves en route to posting a clean sheet.

Tulsa showed good form early, earning a corner kick in the opening minute of the game but couldn't convert.

ECU asserted itself well after conceding that initial corner, controlling play for the next 15 minutes. Its best chance in the sequence came in the seventh minute. The squads' leading scorer Chrissy Gratz danced into the box only to have her shot blocked by the TU defense. The loose change was corralled by Caty Butler, who fired a shot that sailed wide.

The Golden Hurricane settled down, drawing a good chance off a free kick just past midfield. Claire Hulcer delivered a well-placed, long ball to the far post where O'Brien elevated above the defense to redirect a powerful header. It snuck just over the crossbar, settling on top of goal at 16:30.

TU continued to keep play in the ECU portion of the pitch following the effort, earning a pair a corner kicks. The Pirates did good work in the air, though, to clear away the respective services at 21:17 and 26:17. The Golden Hurricane then used a good sequence of passes to set up Hulcer, who struck it well but straight into the chest of Cordero at 33:54.

Four minutes later, Raven Tatum laid the ball off for an onrushing Stephanie Aiken. She raced in on a partial breakaway on the right wing, having played the give-and-go to perfection. Cordero rushed out, effectively cutting down the angle which forced Stephanie Aitken to pull her shot wide.

ECU generated a couple of chances late in the stanza but it could not find paydirt. Gratz's shot was blocked by the TU defense while Kelley Johnson's rebound try sailed well high.

Both sides resorted to shots from distance in the opening stages of the second half, but the keepers were well positioned to snuff out the chances. Tulsa applied good pressure, resulting in consecutive corner kicks in the 58th minute. Tight marking by the Pirates prevented them from capitalizing.

With the match still scoreless, neither squad wanted to give up anything easy. There was one final noteworthy chance down the stretch, with a header struck by both ECU senior Hali Oughton and a Tulsa defender sailing past the outstretch hands of Harryman. It clanked off the crossbar, back into play and was cleared with 36 seconds to play in regulation.

Quarterfinal #1: (1) Colorado College 2, (8) Houston 1

Colorado College-Houston Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Colorado College junior defender Katie Uyenishi buried a header with just four seconds remaining in regulation to give the top-seeded Tigers a dramatic 2-1 victory over No. 8 seed Houston in the opening game of the 2012 Conference USA Championship.

The match had been tied 1-1 for nearly 70 minutes before Uyenishi scored her first goal of the season.

Houston took the early lead on a tally by junior MF Jasmine Martinez (6:41) before Colorado College pulled even on a goal by senior F Brittney Lyman (20:13) a little before the midway point of the first stanza.

The two sides traded blows for the remainder of the match, which appeared destined for overtime.

Aside from the early strike from Martinez, there was not much sustainable possession by either side. Senior Kaci Bush chipped the ball forward to let Martinez propel the shot over GK Hanna Berglund for the first goal of the day. The tally served as a wake-up call to Colorado College, which settled into a high-tempo attacking game. The pressure paid off with Lyman one-timing home the cross from sophomore MF Jessie Ayers, who did good work on the wings to drive to the box and set it up.

The Tigers (14-3-4) advance to Friday's semifinal to play the winner of the East Carolina-Tulsa quarterfinal. Houston closes out its season with a 7-9-3 record.

 

 

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