Nov. 18, 2007
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The match needed two overtimes and six rounds of penalty kicks, but Florida advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament by defeating the UCF women's soccer team, 4-3, on PKs after the two teams battled to a 0-0 tie. The Knights completed their season with a 15-4-4 overall record.
Sunday marked the first time in UCF history that it needed penalty kicks to determine the outcome of an NCAA Tournament match. It also was the Knights' first time since 2003 that they used penalty kicks in a match (vs. Florida Atlantic in the Atlantic Sun Tournament).
Senior goalkeeper Jennifer Manis, the 2007 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, was dominant once again. Her shutout was the 10th of 2007, which ranks in a tie for fifth in UCF single-season history. Manis finished with eight saves for the afternoon to give her 126, good for second all-time. For her career, her 208 stops are tied for third in Knight history.
Florida (17-4-3), the No. 3 seed in the top half of the bracket and ranked as high as No. 6 in the national polls, pestered UCF in the first 20 minutes, stepping into almost every passing lane to negate possible Knight scoring chances. They finally were able to put the ball deep into the Gators' zone in the 22nd minute, where sophomore Becca Thomas drilled a shot from 17 yards out that UF keeper Meghan Berlingo barely got a piece of for the save.
The Gators then tried to answer and ended up with 10 shots in the first half, with four of those attempts being saved by Manis.
UCF's defense was tested throughout the second half, but when the 70th minute came around, its forwards began generating opportunities. Sophomore Yvonne George may have had the best look at the net when she evaded two gator defenders in the 75th minute only to see her shot from 20 yards in front sail barely over the crossbar.
With the match still scoreless, UCF and Florida reached overtime for the second time in NCAA Tournament history, as the Gators claimed a 3-2 win in OT in 2003's first round. UF did post two shots in the first overtime Sunday, while it came close to notching the game-winner with six minutes left in the second extra session but Manis snagged a shot by Stacy Bishop from 15 yards away.
Manis' performance allowed the match to reach penalty kicks, and she stoned Bishop on the opening attempt. Freshman Lauren Halbert then gave the Knights a 1-0 lead when she put her shot into the right side. Megan Kerns evened it up, but barely as Manis got a piece of it as she dove to her left. Freshman Amanda Martorana hit the left post to keep it 1-1 after two rounds.
In round three, UF's Ashley Harris then witnessed Manis dive right, reach behind her and smother her shot, and sophomore Sarah de Leon had her shot stopped by Meghan Berlingo. Shelley Lyle found the left corner of the net to begin the fourth round, and junior Jessica Jackson went top shelf to make it 2-2. Daniela Sanchez and Thomas both scored, and both teams needed even more PKs. Eventually in the sixth round, Ameera Abdullah sealed the win with her conversion, while junior Hanna Wilde's shot hit the crossbar.
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