“The no. 3 seeded UCF Knights will be taking on the 14th seeded St. John’s Red Storm,” boasted the broadcaster of the women’s soccer selection show. The media room in Taffner Field house exploded with screams of excitement and relief that the Red Storm was now NCAA tournament bound.
“I want to believe we can go all the way,” Rachel Daly said. “But we will have to take it one game at a time and go from there.”
The Red Storm (11-5-3, 4-4-2 Big East) will have a tough task on their hands trying to tame the No. 17 University of Central Florida Knights (16-2-4, 9-0-2 AAC) at the UCF Soccer Complex on Nov. 15.
The Red Storm is coming off a tough loss to Marquette, 2-0, in the Big East semifinals. The Red Storm are looking to bounce back in the NCAA tournament behind 12 senior leaders and sophomore forward Rachel Daly who has been tearing it up all season long, breaking two St. John’s single season records; the single season goals scored record and the single season points record, both held by St. John’s Hall of Famer Cristin Burtis. The Red Storm also got tremendous contributions from the defense, led by freshman keeper Diana Poulin, who held opponents scoreless 10 times.
“We had a good feeling we would make it,” said Daly on the NCAA Tournament selection. “Mainly because we crushed DePaul and they made the Big East Finals, and we were able to handle Butler.”
“I’m feeling amazing, really excited, and just can’t wait to get on the road again,” senior defender Sarah Ashmore said.
“We have worked so hard for this; its been such a journey for the senior class,” senior Hailey Hemmer said. “ It’s been a growing process and it feels great to have our hard work pay off.”
The Knights are led by sophomore forward Tatiana Coleman, who has nine goals and seven assists this year, and a defense that has only given up 11 goals on the year. The Knights also won the American Athletic Conference Tournament over Rutgers in the ninth round of penalty kicks, 8-7. The Knights are coming into the NCAA tournament with an 18-game losing streak.
“I watched one game yesterday and it was UCF vs. Rutgers,” said head coach Ian Stone. “UCF is a great match up for us because they play good soccer and do things similar to what we try and do. I think that the girls will be ready for this and UCF is the type of team we can do really well against.”