Nov. 5, 2008
Box Score in PDF Format
HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - It took only 1:37 for the No. 22 UCF women's soccer team to get on the scoreboard, and it would not relinquish the lead in a 2-1 victory over host Rice in the first round of the Conference USA Championship Wednesday. As the No. 3 seed, the Knights (13-4-3) moved on to face No. 2 seed Memphis in the semifinals Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
"We beat a very motivated Rice team tonight. They felt the pressure to win that game and were fired up to be on their home field in the postseason," said head coach Amanda Cromwell. "We knew we had to come out and work hard for the full 90 minutes, and the ladies were scrappy and defended well to get that win. We now look forward to Friday's match vs. Memphis and are hoping for a little payback after last year's title game."
The victory improved the Black and Gold's winning streak to five matches, while the No. 6 Owls fell to 10-9-0 in 2008. UCF may have recorded just 11 shots Wednesday, however it held Rice to just eight attempts, which were the second-lowest amount by an opponent this year (Tulsa had five Oct. 26).
Freshman keeper and All-C-USA Second Team honoree Aline Reis (Campinas, Brazil) needed to make just one save to secure the win.
The first shot of the match found the back of the net in the second minute, where senior Danielle Dos Santos (Campinas, Brazil) connected for her sixth of the year on assists from juniors Brianna Schooley (Coral Springs, Fla.) and Becca Thomas (Burlington, Wash.). Dos Santos' tally at the 1:37 mark proved to be UCF's quickest goal since Nov. 7, 2003, when Becca Eshelman scored only 33 seconds into the Knights' 4-1 win over Stetson during the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
UCF's very next shot in the ninth minute also hit mesh thanks to a lucky bounce, as Thomas ripped a 30-yarder off the right post and over the goal line. It was the All-C-USA First Team member's fifth goal of 2008.
With tons of momentum on their side, the Knights witnessed the Owls cut the lead in half on a Shelley Wong goal in the 34th minute. UCF managed the final three shots in the half but could not stretch its advantage back to two before the break.
Both schools stepped it up on defense in the second frame as there were only a combined seven shots overall with two on goal. In the final 16 minutes of play, Rice controlled most of the action, yet each time it got into the box, the Owl attackers failed to earn a decent look at the net. UCF finished off the win by holding Rice to just one shot in the final 40:31 of the match, and that was saved by Reis.
"Danielle and Becca really stepped up for us, and we created a lot of good scoring chances so we could have had three goals," said Cromwell. "Rice was able to block some of our quality shots, but we did a good job at getting to the endline and also having six corners. For an attack, you want to have six to eight corners in a match. In the first half we were a little stagnant in our movement off the ball. We addressed that at halftime, and Courtney Whidden, Amanda Martorana, Katie Jackson and Lauren Halbert all came in and played well. And Aline was key for us in getting that `W'. It was a total team effort.
"The atmosphere was great, and we love playing in front of that kind of a crowd. They got into it when Rice had some free kicks and corners at the end, but we were able to take time off the clock to keep them off the board. Games like this where we grind it out will help us prepare for the NCAA Tournament, where you're typically playing in noisy environments on other schools' home fields."
Fans hoping to follow the Knights the rest of the way may do so by visiting UCFAthletics.com for live video and stats links, courtesy of C-USA and Rice.
And for the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.
No. 6 Rice (10-9-0) - 1
No. 3 UCF (13-4-3) - 2
Goals: UCF Danielle Dos Santos (6) 2nd, UCF Becca Thomas (5) 9th, RICE Shelley Wong (9), 34th
- UCF has posted unbeaten streaks of at least five matches three times this year.
- The current five-game winning streak is the longest since 2007 when it had a six-match streak.
- The Knights also eliminated Rice last season in a 1-0 decision in the semifinals.
- Danielle Dos Santos paced UCF with three shots.
- UCF is 1-1-0 in its last two matches with its upcoming opponent, Memphis. The Knights defeated the Tigers during the regular season, 2-1 in overtime in Tennessee, but suffered a 2-0 loss in last year's C-USA Championship final as both schools went on to earn berths in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, UCF owns a 3-2-0 lead in the all-time series.