Making its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance, the UCF women’s soccer team was looking to build off of last year’s Sweet Sixteen run.
Hosting the game, the Knights (12-7-1) gave it all they could against William & Mary (15-4-2) through a scoreless regulation and overtime, eventually losing on penalty kicks 3-1.
“We had a great season overall when we did not know what this season was going to be about with so many new people,” UCF head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said. “At the end of the day it is heartbreaking but I am incredibly proud of this team. More than the performances that we’ve had this year, I’m more proud of the way this team goes about their daily life and the way that they train and the way that they stick together.”
Tribe goalkeeper Caroline Casey was able to come up big with two saves in penalty kicks. That effort, paired with a UCF attempt that went over the crossbar of the goal, allowed the Tribe to advance to the next round of the NCAA tournament.
Both teams had their opportunities to score in regulation and in the two overtime periods. Most of the scoring opportunities came from set pieces, but neither team was able to break through.
The best opportunity for either team was for UCF on a corner kick that found junior Carol Rodrigues in the box. Her shot would have cleared the keeper but it was stopped by the foot of a William & Mary player at the goal line.
“We are a program that is going to continue to fight to host and be in the NCAA Tournament. That is always our expectation, whether we are a brand-new team or we have 11 starters coming back,” Roberts Sahaydak said. “We are bummed about tonight but overall this team just stuck together all season and you could just be so proud of that.”
This season marked the ninth straight time that UCF has earned a bid to the NCAA tournament. This also was the 15th consecutive season that the Knights posted double-digit victories.
The Knights said goodbye to seniors Madison Barney, Diana Manis, Ashley Spivey and Megan Fish, but will sport a strong group of returning players next season.
Matthew Saunders is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.