ORLANDO – For the final time this season, the Knights faithful cheered on as the UCF women’s soccer team (8-5-1) honored 11 seniors, most of whom with years of memories playing for the Black and Gold. The performance was one to be proud of as the Knights drew with No. 6 Texas Tech (12-0-4), 1-1, Thursday night at the UCF Soccer Complex. While Maggie Jenkins's second career goal was canceled out by a Red Raiders equalizer just over 10 minutes later, UCF displayed a gritty mentality all 90 minutes en route to its first tie of the season.
It was a massive bounce back for us and while we would've loved to get the win, I'm focused on the team's mentality and tonight was another level of commitment. We were on our front foot and were pressuring the opposition with more duels - there was a great desire from the squad and I'm really proud of them for that.
A first-ever meeting with the Red Raiders in the new millennium and in the Big 12 came following the Knights's toughest stretch of the season. From the jump, the three-match home stand finale showed early signs of the Knights urgency to secure points. Dayana Martin was lively early on, setting the tone for a back-and-forth first half and a plethora of pressure on the Texas Tech backline.
The fifth year was the first Knight to test arguably the nation’s best keeper, Madison White, who was among four keepers who led the nation with nine shutouts before tonight’s contest. The physicality was on full display during the first 45, with eight fouls in the first 25 minutes of play. Overall, the two squads combined for 27 fouls as the referee showed a total of four yellow cards.
Texas Tech put two shots on goal from six total while the Knights settled for Martin’s early chance from five shots. Six of the Knights 13 matches have been level at the half, though four wins and two defeats have left UCF without a draw through 13 matches for the first time since 2014 prior to tonight’s shared spoils. UCF was adamant on finding the opener in the early stages of the second half to put pressure on one of the nation’s last remaining unbeaten teams.
While Jenkins registered a shot in the 54th minute, it would be a corner kick minutes later that proved to be the final product of yet another strong performance from the New Zealand native. Following a ball into the box from Bradley, it fell right back to her feet to the left of the 18-yard box as she floated a cross into Martin who played the ball into the ground before Jenkins, who was perfectly positioned in front of the goal, finished the chance with the outside of her right boot. The Knights leading assisters each notched yet another in their final campaigns in Orlando, as Martin’s seven continues to raise her career-high. Jenkins, whose first collegiate goal came a week ago versus Texas, secured her second of the homestand as she continues to both create and finish chances for a Knights attack that has had to battle through injuries.
KB ➡️ Day ➡️ Maggie— UCF Women's Soccer (@UCF_WSoccer) October 12, 2023
You couldn’t draw it up better if you tried 🤩 pic.twitter.com/GhA8Jh3JXI
Only two shots split the UCF opener with the eventual equalizer from Texas Tech in the 68th minute. The Red Raiders leading goal scorer Ashleigh Williams assisted Sam Cartwright who notched her fifth of the season.
While the potential shutout was ended, fifth year Caroline DeLisle and the Knights backline maintained composure and a strong block while UCF strived for the winner. Ariel Young and Kyleigh Thelen, along with Sanja Homann and Jessica McCullen out wide, held the Red Raiders to just one shot on goal following their equalizer. Chloe Netzel was inches away from securing all three points before White’s right foot blocked her shot in the 86th minute. The strong second-half display propelled UCF to a well-earned draw with the nation’s sixth-best team and more importantly a point to keep the Knights (13) in the hunt for a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament.
The Knights will make the familiar trip north for a meeting with Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon for the penultimate match of their inaugural Big 12 campaign.