AUSTIN, Texas – An enthralling inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference will live on following a triumph over third-seeded TCU in which the UCF women’s soccer team (10-6-1, 5-4-1 Big 12) showed all the signs of a championship team. The Knights will be tested once more on Wednesday as they are set to clash with the second-seeded and seventh-ranked BYU (15-1-3, 7-0-3 Big 12), as the semifinal matchup will feature two of the four newcomers to the conference.
While Sunday afternoon saw the official Big 12 announcement declaring the quarterfinals would move 20 miles south to Austin, the last four will stay put at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas due to weather in the area. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. as the Knights will play their 14th matchup under the lights this season. You can watch the bout on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and follow along on social media.
Just over a week ago, UCF made the roughly 2,300-mile journey out west to the rowdy and rambunctious South Field in Provo, Utah. While a late second-half surge fell short, the two standouts among the new Big 12 showed all the makings of a potential conference championship matchup. Both squads advanced in near-opposite fashions, as the Cougars dismantled ninth-seeded Oklahoma 6-0 Monday afternoon.
Three Knights scored in the quarterfinal matchup against TCU on Monday night, the most since the inaugural Big 12 conference match against West Virginia, which saw Ellie Moreno, Dayana Martin and Chloe Netzel net a goal apiece. Mia Asenjo and Netzel scored for the second consecutive match in a UCF dominated second half that featured three Knights goals to put the team over the top. Asenjo leveled the match in the 53rd minute on an astounding goal that managed to split two TCU defenders. Martin did what she does best, scoring a one-timer goal off a pass from Asenjo to give the Black and Gold the lead. After TCU equalized, Netzel was determined to not let the match go to overtime, an event that happened in all three postseason matches for the Knights last season, and gave the Knights the lead with just eight minutes remaining on the clock. Her seventh goal of the season, a new single-season high, was one of beauty, going right between the legs of the keeper to keep the UCF season alive.
The backline continued to show its strength, only allowing the Horned Frogs to get two shots on target. Two members of the Knights defense, Ariel Young and Sanja Homann, earned assists on UCF goals, demonstrating the playmaking opportunity that the entire team possesses. It was Young’s first assist of her career and the second of Homann’s season. Audrey Buck made her fourth appearance of the season and made an immediate impact. The redshirt freshman forced several clutch appearances and had a phenomenal physical presence alongside the veteran members of the UCF backline.
High powered would be an understatement for a BYU team that leads the nation in goals (64), assists (67), and unsurprisingly points (195). While the squad is no longer the No. 1 team in the country, the seventh-ranked Cougars place second in RPI with a stacked resume of results. A triumph over the previously top-ranked and reigning national champion UCLA 3-1 back in August set the tone for what would be a historic regular season. Fourteen wins and a lone defeat to Utah State secured the first-year Big 12 members the second seed in the championship.
BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood clinched a historic milestone in Monday’s victory versus Oklahoma, notching her 450th career win. With just one program to her name, she’s become intertwined in Provo. The four-time West Coast Conference Coach of the Year has perfectly transitioned her team as they embark on a new era in one of the nation’s top conferences.
While the BYU defense provides stability throughout every match, it’s the attack that has propelled the Cougars into the postseason and on the verge of their 24th NCAA tournament appearance. Five players have at least eight goals, with Erin Bailey and Allie Fryer leading the charge with 10 each. The high-flying offense runs through Brecken Mozingo who’s having yet another stellar season, amassing 29 points on nine goals and 11 assists.