The regular season has come to a close, and the UCF women's soccer team has come out on top.
The team played to a 2-0 win over East Carolina on Friday night and clinched the American Athletic Conference regular season championship. The regular season championship gives UCF (15-3) the No. 1 seed in the AAC postseason, as well as giving it the right to host the first round and the quarterfinals of the tournament.
This is the second straight year UCF has won the regular season title.
"To check this off the list is obviously a good feeling but we know we need to push for more, we know we have another level in us, which kind of excites me," said Tatiana Coleman, who scored on a penalty kick on Friday. "I'm ready to see us step it up to the next level, going into postseason. I really think we can sharpen up and really be one of the top teams out there."
When Coleman says postseason, she doesn't just mean the AAC tournament — she also means the NCAA tournament, which is approaching fast.
Friday night was also special for other reasons for UCF. It was also senior night. There are five seniors on the Knights' roster: Coleman, Kayla Darden, Jennifer Martin, Alex Piercy and Carleigh Williams.
"It was an amazing night, first off just to celebrate our seniors and really dedicate this game to them," said UCF head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak. "Perfect timing really that it's senior night and an opportunity for us to clinch first place."
All five of the seniors for UCF have played in all 18 games this year. Coleman is the team's leading scorer with 12 goals.
"It literally flies by, [senior night is] a really emotional night," Coleman said. "I felt the passion, I felt the love, I felt all the excitement from everyone on the field, from my parents to my teammates to my coaches."
After UCF clinched the title on Friday, it still had one more regular season game. The game, against Cincinnati, though meaningless in conference standings, was important for UCF's RPI ranking going into the NCAA tournament.
UCF won the game 2-0. The win moved it to 8-1 on the year in conference play, and gave the team its first undefeated home record since 1999. UCF has not lost a home conference match since 2012.
Going into Friday night's game, UCF was coming off a loss against UConn. Before the UConn game, the team had won 10 straight. The UConn game may have served as a wake-up call for a team with big goals.
"We did not play our best match against UConn, it was a real gut check for us and I think it was good for us to know that we're not invincible," Roberts Sahaydak said. "I think when you can win a lot of games in a row like we did we can all get comfortable, so I think at this time of the year to have that loss was one of the best things that could have happened to us."
Even with the loss against UConn, the Knights still won 12 of 13 to close out the year, and only allowed three goals in those 13 games. They outscored their opponents an incredible 33-3 in the games, so you can see what Roberts Sahaydak means when she said it may be a good thing.
Now, as a coach, her job after Friday's clincher is to keep the team from getting too high on what is really just a stepping stone on the path to its overall goals.
"We are pretty good at staying level-headed," she said. "We have our big goals for the season, and one of them we were able to accomplish tonight, but I'm going to bring them back down to Earth tomorrow."
The first game in the AAC tournament for UCF will be against the winner of the game between the 8 and 9 seeds. It will be Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. at home.