Knights advance to second round of NCAA tournament

UCF played and hosted an NCAA championship match for the first time in over 20 years and they did not squander the opportunity, defeating the Florida International Golden Panthers 2-0 at the UCF Track and Soccer Complex Friday night.

Junior Forward Tishia Jewell, a first team all conference selection, started off the scoring 14 minutes into the match and the Knights never looked back. Jewell received a long pass from senior keeper Aline Reis and outran Panther defenders as she shot just outside the box, putting UCF on the scoreboard and giving the senior her first career assist.
“I was just dribbling up, saw an opening and I took the shot,” said Jewell. “Simple as that.”
The Panthers made a few runs early in the second half but lost all momentum after the Knights second goal, netted by freshman Emily Grider after collecting the ball off of a Jewell shot that was deflected by FIU junior keeper Kaityln Savage.
UCF was clearly the better team in the match up as their stifling defense, led by Reis and all conference selections sophomore Marissa Diggs, allowed no goals and only two shots on goal.
“I think we pretty much dominated the 90 minutes with shots and corners. I can’t say enough about the leadership,” said UCF head coach Amanda Cromwell. “It was a very complete game. I think we have that feeling that we are peaking at the right time.”
This was the fifth consecutive appearance in the tournament for the Knights while it was the Panthers’ first, a big factor in UCF’s win.
“I think it’s huge you know, we don’t have those jitters. It’s definitely a sense of we have been here before,” said Coach Cromwell. “Having that experience, you know having been here five times in a row we have that feeling of confidence.”
The Knights, who are making their 16th appearance in the NCAA Championship tournament, are now 12-4-5 and will move on to the second round of the tournament facing the winner of the University of Florida-Florida Gulf Coast match. The Golden Panthers finish the season at 13-7-3.