There was a warm welcome awaiting the UCF women's soccer team in their first game of the season on Sunday – 98 degrees warm.
In the sweltering heat No. 23 UCF (1-0) was able to pull off a win in their first game, defeating Miami (0-2) 2-1.
Tatiana Coleman, who led the Knight in goals last season with 10, is back to her scoring ways this season. She netted both of the Knight's scores on the day.
"It was good to get a win to start the season, we knew it wasn't going to just come to us," Coleman said. "We knew we had to grind it out, and that's kind of our motto for this team."
Grind it out is just what they did. Due in large part to the weather, there was never a long break between substitutions for either team, and 16 players were eventually used on each side.
UCF head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak also saw the heat as a big factor, causing the game to be ugly at times.
"We definitely did grind it out," Sahaydak said. "Did we play our best soccer? No. Was it fun to watch for our fans? Probably not. I have to say it has a lot to do with the heat. I don't like to make a lot of excuses, but today was pretty brutal."
The first goal of the match came in the 30th minute. UCF drew a corner and Jennifer Martin was able to find Sophie Howard for an attempt at a header. The shot was blocked, but Coleman was there for the rebound and was able to put it in the back of the net to give the Knights their first goal of the season.
Coleman than got her second goal of the day in the 52nd minute. Again the goal came after a UCF corner. This time the ball came in and was played to the middle of the box, where Hannah DeBose was able to catch it and see a pass through to where Coleman was open for a goal.
"Tati, she's a force," Sahaydak said. "She does not stop, she's very mentally tough, so on a day like today where the heat is coming down on everyone she can really dig deep and get her team going."
The lone goal for Miami came on a free kick by, believe it or not, the goal keeper. It was played towards the Miami offense near the net where the UCF keeper mishandled the ball, allowing it to trickle across the line and cut the lead to 2-1 in the 64th minute.
UM would continue to push the ball throughout the second half and had a few good opportunities, but the UCF defense held on and ended up with the win.
Currently sitting at No. 13 in the RPI standings in the country, UCF has a very tough schedule this season. That tough schedule will begin on Friday, when UCF travels to College Station to face off against No. 9 Texas A&M.
"Going on the road next week we have to focus on sharpening up a little bit and starting off the game with sharpness," Coleman said. "Today wasn't our best, but there's always room for improvement."
The Aggies made it all the way to the Sweet 16 in last year's NCAA tournament. They will be a good early season test for UCF, who will be able to see how they stack up against one of the best teams in the country.
While they didn't play their most fundamentally sound soccer on Sunday, Sahaydak still sees the win as a positive for UCF moving forward.
"I think this helped us mentally," Sahaydak said. "Mentally, being able to win under these conditions is good for us going into next weekend."
It may have been ugly at times, and it was hot all the time, but at the end of the day, UCF is now 1-0, and on their way to an eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.