Photo by Terrance Coakley.

The No. 3 seed UCF Knights shut out the No. 6 seed Houston Cougars 5-0 Sunday afternoon at the UCF Soccer and Track Complex in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.

The Knights got on the score sheet early, with freshman Ellie Moreno scoring in the first two minutes. Goals were later scored by sophomore Darya Rajaee, redshirt senior Jessica Taylor, and two from sophomore Dayana Martin. 

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Goalkeeper Caroline DeLisle was only challenged three times, but was able to save all three chances she faced. The redshirt freshman marked her 10th shutout in 2019 after the Knights defeat the Cougars.

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UCF redshirt senior Jessica Taylor said that being in a win-or-go-home postseason tournament is a little different from the regular season, and takes a different level of urgency.

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“It really is such a different ballgame. If anyone is able to win, and it’s not about where you are in the conference, it’s that game,” she said. “If you lose you’re out, and if you win you’re in still, but you got to keep rolling and keep grinding.”

Scoring two goals today was a huge confidence boost for Martin, as the Knights season continues. 

“I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get my confidence up and start scoring goals, so that was really good for us,” Martin said.

UCF women’s soccer head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said she loved what she saw out of her team today and scoring early and often was a key to the Knights success Sunday.

“It’s hard to score goals no matter who your opponent is, so the fact that we executed and scored five was big time,” Sahaydak said. 

UCF will now travel to Memphis, the host site of the semifinals and finals to face off against in-state conference rival, the USF Bulls, on Thursday in the semifinals of the conference tournament. 

UCF defeated USF Thursday 1-0 on Senior Knight, and Sahaydak said she will look for that same level of passion and emotion in another rivalry game this week. 

The Knights will face the Bulls on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. for the next round of the tournament in Memphis.