ORLANDO – Another gritty performance from the RV UCF women’s soccer team (7-2, 3-0 Big 12) pushed them to victory over Kansas (3-3-5, 0-2-1 Big 12) on Sunday afternoon at the UCF Soccer Complex to keep a perfect record in its inaugural Big 12 conference slate. After Chloe Netzel drew a penalty in the box on a beautiful sequence, Katie Bradley looked cool, calm and collected as she netted the penalty kick, her second game-winning goal in as many matches.
”It’s a huge relief to get the win, so I’m happy that we were able to find a way. Katie Bradley has come a long way and doing great on both sides of the ball. I give her so much credit for being able to stay focused and put away that penalty kick. We just have to keep grinding and keep creating opportunities.”
The match started off relatively slow, with both teams putting out feelers for each other through the first 10 minutes. Kansas’ Magali Gagne took her first shot of the match in the 10th minute, followed by three others in the following six minutes. Caroline DeLisle never hesitated, scooping up every shot that was aimed her way. Dayana Martin opened the shots for the Knights on a good chance off a pass from Chloe Netzel, but the shot went wide, keeping the match knotted at zero. The rest of the first 45 went back-and-forth with possession and shots, both sides getting good looks on the hunt for the opener.
UCF emerged from the locker room, not content with a 0-0 draw. The pressure on the Jayhawks’ backline increased and the Knights offense exploded. Ellie Moreno got her first shot on target in the 52nd minute, followed by another just moments after, immediately increasing the intensity of the match. Defender Kyleigh Thelen, who has played every minute of the 2023 season, notched her first shot on goal in Black and Gold as she tested the Kansas keeper in the 58th minute. The Knights defense remained locked down, only allowing the Jayhawks to register one shot on target during the last 45 minutes, which DeLisle handled with confidence.
As the clock began winding down on the match, UCF played strategically, creating opportunities left and right, but were unable to find the back of the net. Netzel began to put plans into order, as she went one-on-two with Kansas defenders to the left of the goal inside the box. The transfer from Xavier was tripped by Moira Kelley, drawing a penalty kick for the Knights. Set piece connoisseur Bradley stepped up to take the penalty and put the ball in the goal to earn her second goal of the 2023 campaign. The Bolton, England, native is just one goal away from tying her single-season record, a three-goal season achieved in 2021.
The Knights locked down in the remaining six minutes, controlling possession and not allowing another shot on target for the Jayhawks to secure the home victory. UCF has improved its home undefeated streak to ten matches, a 385-day active Big 12 record. The squad has also extended its win streak to five matches.
With the five-save shutout, Tampa native DeLisle moves into second place in program history for career shutouts with 30. One more clean sheet will propel her over Karen Richter to hold the program record. DeLisle also sits in sixth among active NCAA players for career shutouts and is behind only Madison White from Texas Tech in the Big 12.
The Knights will head to the state of Oklahoma this week for a two-match road trip. The team will face off against Oklahoma State on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla. before heading to Norman, Okla. to go head-to-head with Oklahoma on Sunday.