UCF Claims C-USA Women's Soccer Championship
Nov. 4, 2012
UCF claimed its first C-USA Women's Soccer tournament title with a 2-0 shutout of Tulsa in Sunday's championship match at UTEP's University Field. The Knights will represent Conference USA in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 20 UCF (17-4-1) was the third seed in this year's championship and received goals from Nicolette Radovcic (12:27) and Jennifer Martin (59:24). UCF also improved upon their school record with its 15th shutout of the second, seventh in a row. The 15 shutouts also ties the 2011 Memphis and 2001 Cincinnati squads for most shutouts in a season. The Knights limited TU to just a pair of shots on goal with junior GK Lianne Maldonado turning away both chances.
Andrea Rodrigues and Ashley Nicol set up Radovcic's game winner while Bianca Joswiak and Madison Barney helped on the tally from Martin. It is Radovcic's fifth match winner this season and 10th of her career. Those figures rank fifth all time at UCF in their respective categories.
Tulsa junior GK Hayley Harryman made seven stops in a quality effort.
The Knights started the championship game as they have every other game in the tournament with a high tempo attack which gave Tulsa problems from the outset. This was evidenced in the two UCF corners that were earned within the first five minutes. The first shot, however, went to Tulsa with Camille Pelley firing disappointingly wide after a good break on the counter from her teammates found her in space on the edge of the area at 7:56.
It proved to be a rare let-up for the Knights in the first 20 minutes as they continued to hold the ball for long periods in their attacking third. That pressure would pay off at 12:27 when Rodrigues delivered a great back post cross that Nicol put squarely on target with a powerful downward header. Harryman did well to save the initial shot given the proximity and ferocity, but she was punished for her inability to hold as Radovcic was on hand to poke the rebound in and give UCF the all-important first goal.
It was clear that the Knights were not going to be satisfied to sit on their lead as they continued to pour forward upon the resumption of play, Rodrigues ripping a shot just wide a few moments after the goal at 19:17.
Tulsa would struggle to find a way into the game until Claire Hulcer provided a change in momentum at 25:19 following a handball on UCF. From all of 45 yards out Hulcer crushed a shot off the crossbar and back into play, leaving both the frame and UCF rattling.
It was a spark the Hurricane needed, remaining largely in control the remainder of the half. UCF, for its part, defended very well to ensure that all of the Golden Hurricane's pressure yielded very little in the way of actual chances, ending the half without conceding a single corner kick.
The second half started much as the first half started with UCF creating several half-chances within the first five minutes. The best of these was a decent, bouncing effort from Jewell at 46:15. Harryman had no trouble collecting the effort without any traffic around her and having seen it all the way.
As the second half progressed it was obvious that there would be no let up from UCF with Tulsa constantly on the back foot. Jewell took advantage of one period of sustained pressure to rifle a left footed shot on target, Harryman doing well to get in front of the ball and hold.
The Knights would get the insurance goal they so desperately craved at 59:24, and if goals were judged on quality, this goal was worthy of being a tournament winner. Joswiak pinged a cross field ball right to the feet of Barney in full flight along the touchline. Barney took one touch before looking up and delivering a beautiful back-post cross to Martin, who had timed her run to perfection. Martin applied the coolest of touches, glancing her header expertly inside the post.
UCF had been guilty of letting Tulsa back into the match in the first half, and it was clear they were not going to repeat their mistake as they continued to crash forward in waves. Radovcic shot narrowly wide at 60:15. Fifteen minutes later, Kayla Darden drew Harryman into service once more, glancing her header low to the far post at 75:15. At 78:15, UCF seemed certain to claim its third on the day as Allie Gerry ran in on a partial breakaway, yet she was denied at the last possible second by a heroic effort from a Tulsa defender who slid in to nick the ball away.
2012 C-USA Women's Soccer All-Tournament Team