ORLANDO – The No. 22 UCF women’s soccer team (2-1-0) extended its home unbeaten streak to six matches, thanks to a 2-1 victory over North Florida (1-2-1) Sunday night. Thanks to strong defensive performances from the back line and an aggressive offense, the Knights have now won every home opener dating back to the 2020-21 season.
“I’m proud of the team for getting the win. UNF made it really difficult, but credit to the team for still finding a way to get the win. Chloe [Netzel] did a great job putting away the goal in the end, she’s been an awesome heading presence for us and just an overall great addition to the team."
UCF gave UNF a taste of what the offense would look like in the opening minutes of the match, getting an early shot off a Katie Bradley free kick, where she narrowly missed and hit the post. The intensity continued, highlighted by a Knights goal in the 14th minute. A cross from Dayana Martin was controlled by Mia Asenjo, who passed it to Ellie Moreno. Moreno drilled the ball to the bottom left of the net to open the scoring for the squad. The goal is the first of the season for the fifth-year and the 13th of her career. The primary assist went to Asenjo, the first of her career, with Martin getting the secondary, the ninth of her career.
The Black and Gold continued to batter the UNF defense with a flurry of shots, collecting seven attempts in the first half. Redshirt freshman Jessica McCullen and freshman Jalen Haas saw the first minutes of their collegiate careers and immediately made an impact, pressuring the Ospreys attack, helping limit them to just one shot attempt in the first 45.
The second half looked to be similar to the first with the UCF offense peppering UNF with shots, earning four in the first five minutes. The Ospreys took their first shot on goal in the 50th minute, which Caroline DeLisle easily grabbed. UNF fought back with an equalizer in the 69th minute from a cross into the box that was headed down by Paige McSwigan.
Not content with a draw, the Knights struck quick to regain the advantage. A set piece went perfectly as planned, resulting in Chloe Netzel earning her second goal in the Black and Gold. Sanja Homann received a pass off a short corner from Polly Watson and delivered a perfect pass that Netzel directed to the back of the net. With the header, the Xavier transfer has now scored in back-to-back matches and earned points in all three matches of the season. Watson and Homann earned their first points of the 2023 campaign, helping to create scoring opportunities for the Knights.
With the lead regained, the defense locked it down, not allowing UNF to get another shot for the remaining 18 minutes of the match. When the final whistle blew, the Knights outshot the Ospreys 14-3 and put five on target compared to UNF’s two.
The Knights will hit the road one final time in their non-conference slate to travel to Happy Valley to take on No. 8 Penn State.