ORLANDO — No. 18 UCF women’s soccer team won in dramatic fashion as they beat Miami in penalty kicks 5-3 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“I was very impressed with the PK’s. They all tucked in nicely,” said UCF head coach Amanda Cromwell. “To battle like we did, that game was tough in a lot of ways. Miami is a very athletic team with a very long throw-in that causes a lot of problems.”
This was a rematch of a game played at UCF earlier this season when the Knights won the game 1-0 against the Hurricanes.
UCF had an earlier attempt to score when Nicolette Radovcic had a one-on-one opportunity, but couldn’t convert the chance.
Miami’s high tempo caused problems for UCF earlier on and had opportunities to score more goals, but Miami failed to capitalize on the final third.
The Hurricanes got on the scoreboard early in the 19th minute from a long throw, when Shannon McCarthy’s throw found Kate Howarth inside the box. Howarth head it on to Ally Andreini, who headed it in for the goal for a 1-0 lead. The goal scored by Miami ended UCF’s seven-match shutout streak.
The Knights had several opportunities to score in the first half, but couldn’t seem to put the ball in the net so they went into halftime down 1-0 to Miami.
UCF goal keeper Lianne Maldonado came up with 2 huge saves that the Knights needed to keep the game in reach for a tie.
“Lianne is the reason we were still in the game, 1-0, so I can’t say enough about her play tonight,” Cromwell said.
The Knights finally got on the board with 5 minutes left in the 84th minute when Madison Barney crossed a pass into the box where Ashley Nicol made a diving header to tie the game up at 1, sending the game to overtime.
“During warmup, I kept hitting my headers high. Coach said you have to hit them low,” Nicol said. “So right when Madi headed it, I envisioned diving for it.”
The Knights after giving up the goal earlier in the first half tighten up on defense to not allow Miami’s high tempo offensive attack to control the game.
UCF started to show their dominance in the 1st and 2nd overtime periods, but no team could get a goal so it went to a penalty shootout.
All the penalty takers for the Knights scored with the order being Tishia Jewell, Jennifer Martin, Ashley Nicol, and Nicolette Radovcic and also Miami match that to make it 4-3 with Ally Andreini up to try and tie it at 4 apiece, but she hit it high and it hit the crossbar.
The last penalty kick was from Allie Gerry she up and made it to send the UCF’s women soccer team in a frenzy while making group pile that players jumped on one another and celebrated that they are moving on to face Florida in Gainesville on Friday.