Nov. 16, 2007
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Sophomore Becca Thomas notched two goals and senior Jennifer Manis registered nine saves to guide the UCF women's soccer team past Auburn, 3-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday in Gainesville, Fla. The Knights now look ahead to Sunday's second-round match-up with either host Florida or Miami (Fla.) at 1 p.m.
"A victory in the first round is always great," said head coach Amanda Cromwell. "Getting those two goals in the first half was key, and I think we finished well from the shots we created. And Jennifer Manis was stellar in goal. I cannot say enough about her."
UCF's (15-4-3) three goals tied a school record for most tallies in an NCAA Tournament match, a feat the Knights have now accomplished six times. Friday's match marked UCF's 12th appearance in the postseason event.
Thomas registered her second-career multi-goal game to give her four goals on the 2007 campaign. Freshman Amanda Martorana recorded her first collegiate goal, which proved to be the game-winner.
Auburn opened up with a lot of offensive pressure, and Manis was forced to make a tough save in the second minute as Becca Howell put the match's first shot on net.
However, Auburn turned the ball over in the ninth minute as sophomore Courtney Whidden intercepted a pass and was fouled just four feet outside the top of the box. UCF put three players in position to take the free kick, but it was Thomas that ripped a 23-yard shot in which keeper Allison Whitworth tipped off the crossbar. The ball ricocheted straight down, caught a piece of Whitworth's back and slowly rolled into the net in the 10th minute, giving UCF a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers did not let up the pressure, eventually taking five unanswered shots with the help of four corner kicks following the UCF goal. As the Black and Gold defense remained strong, it helped keep Auburn at bay and enable UCF to add another tally before the break. With junior Danielle Dos Santos controlling the action 19 yards out in the Auburn zone, she delivered a pass to Martorana who was stationed on dos Santos' right side. Martorana found an open look at the left portion of the goal and cranked a perfect shot past Whitworth, giving the Knights a 2-0 cushion.
In the second half, UCF picked up right where it left off. With the help of some precise passing in the box, sophomore Brianna Schooley found an open Thomas in the 49th minute, who scored from 20 yards out. Her second goal of the night put the match away. Auburn's Caitlin King was able to get a shot past Manis in the 88th minute, but the Knights had already sealed the win.
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