Women's Soccer Opens UCF Invitational with a 2-1 Win over UNLV


Sept. 7, 2007

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF's women's soccer team used pressure defense, timely passing and a lot of offensive execution in its first match of the UCF Invitational Friday en route to a 2-1 victory over UNLV. The Knights moved to 2-1-0 on the season, as the win was No. 300 in program history dating back to its inception in 1981.

"I was really pleased with the first half, I thought we came out strong and we had a lot of chances," said head coach Amanda Cromwell. "They didn't have much of an attack in the first half but that flip-flopped a little in the second as we came out a little sluggish and gave up an early goal. That's one of the last things you want to do is give up a goal in the first five minutes after halftime. Some teams could mentally break down after that but we kept fighting and created a great goal-scoring chance and capitalized on it.

"This was a good 2-1 win against an undefeated team that has been conference champions the last three years. We needed this match and pulled it out. We didn't play our best in the second half but we still picked up the win. That's a sign of a good team."

A pair of perfect passes set up UCF's first goal in the 12th minute against UNLV (2-1-0). Freshman Amanda Martorana (Middleburg, Fla.) delivered the first pass deep in the UNLV zone where sophomore Nikki Moore (Virginia Beach, Va.) took it on the right endline. Moore quickly sent it into the box and sophomore Courtney Whidden (Palm Harbor, Fla.) gathered it only five yards from the net. Although goalkeeper Alicia Lugo dove across to attempt to keep the game scoreless, Whidden easily sent the ball into the left side for a 1-0 lead. It was her fifth goal of her career and second of the season.

Just seven minutes later, UCF continued its offensive pressure. Junior Hanna Wilde (Westlake, Ohio) sprinted down the left side and found a sharp angle at the net. Her lazer shot, though, glanced off the side and the Knights remained up by one. The Black and Gold had another opportunity moments later as UCF controlled possession in the box. Freshman Kacie Horner (Franklin, Tenn.) eventually picked up the ball only to see her shot towards the middle of the net by blocked by a Rebel defender.

Following the break, it did not take long for UNLV to even things up at 1-1. In the 47th minute, Katie Carney sent a pass over to Niki Connolly, who placed a shot from the top of the box into the upper right corner of the net.

Martorana came close to retaking the lead in the 51st minute when she received a pass in the box from sophomore Yvonne George (Winter Springs, Fla.) and saw her shot turned aside by Lugo. Sophomore Becca Thomas (Burlington, Wash.), however, grabbed a 2-1 lead in the 58th minute thanks to some precise ball-handling by George. Holding off a defender on the left endline, George fired a pass right to Thomas in the box and her shot hit the right portion of the goal. Her first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner as well.

The best chance the Rebels had to tying it up came with 7:07 left when Erica Jensen's 30-yard shot from the middle of the field clanked off the crossbar. Senior keeper Jennifer Manis still had a bead on that shot and would have knocked it over the net had it been just a tad lower. Manis ultimately finished with one save.

For the match, UCF outshot UNLV 10-9 and had a 5-2 advantage in the corner-kick department.

"On our first goal, Amanda was on the right side and had a great through-ball to our right back (Moore) on the endline," described Cromwell. "That was awesome for our right back to be flying down the line and get an assist. And it was a great finish by Whidden. That was one of those plays that was textbook. In the second half, Yvonne was a handful for them all night, and she got to the endline and cut the ball into the box for Becca who put her shot away."

The Knights conclude the UCF Invitational Sunday at the UCF Soccer Complex where they face UC Davis at 1:30 p.m. Before the Black and Gold tangle with the Aggies, No. 13 South Carolina and UNLV will hit the field at 11 a.m. Admission to each match is free.

For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.