UCF score plenty to defeat Cougars at home
The Cougars faltered in their return home Thursday night against the No. 10 Central Florida (8-1-1 overall, 2-0-1 AAC). The clash saw the Cougars struggle against their toughest opponent of the season. After the loss, the Cougars are now 5-5-1 on the season and 1-2-0 in conference play.
Coming off a week of rest, the Cougars hoped to start quickly to throw UCF off its game. Unfortunately, the Cougars started slowly, allowing four goals in the first 25 minutes before settling down and holding UCF.
All of the goals came off of poor defending by the Cougars. They allowed UCF players to get into space without a marker. The first goal came off a deflection, and the second was a shot from the left corner of the box into the right side of the net.
The third goal came from a poorly defended goal kick that the scorer got free and was able to roll past junior goalkeeper Rachel Estopare. The fourth goal came after the backline was broken by two UCF — the first shot was deflected by Estopare, but the other attacker was able to catch the deflection and snake it past her.
The Cougars held a stronger backline after the team struggled to figure out UCF in the first 25 minutes by regularly letting attackers through gaps in coverage. The soccer team was able to find some leverage counterattacking, although no real chances came from their efforts.
UCF was in control all game. Their passing forward and defending continued to outperform anything the Cougars could muster.
Estopare, who has been an integral part of the Cougars season, came off with an apparent leg injury after a collision in the 43rd minute . Freshman goalkeeper Emily Godfrey made her first appearance for the team and played 47 minutes in total.
The real action came at the end of the first half after a fight broke out between the teams.
While the crowd and rest of the team were focused on the play happening on the right side of the field, senior forward Rosalba Barbosa and a UCF defender got into a fight that resulted in red cards for both players and the benches to be cleared. Both teams were given a yellow card warning.
UCF had registered 15 shots by the end of the first half, while UH had registered just three. The Cougars also had nine saves this half — eight by Estopare and one by Godfrey.
Second half slow down
The second half was lackluster from a stats perspective. UCF didn’t score any goals and only registered seven shots, but they still seemed to be in control of the game. The Cougars did a great job of using what they had learned from the first half and applying it to their game plan.
UH registered only one shot in the second half, but did a much better job of pushing numbers forward.
The game ended 4-0, though it did not reflect the tone of the whole match.
“Until you play a team of their caliber and understand the pace of the game, you can’t emulate that in practice,” said head coach Diego Bocanegra after the game. “It’s a learning curve. We gave up all 5 goals in the first 25 minutes. Once we got the speed of the game, we were able to settle down.”
The Cougars return to action Sunday against the 8-3-0 USF Knights (4-1-0 AAC). UH hopes to even out its conference record with a win. The alumni game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Carl Lewis International Complex.