ORLANDO, FLA. – A late goal and a career day for goalkeeper Maeve English helped the East Carolina soccer team earn a 1-1 draw at UCF on Sunday afternoon.
“We are very proud of the fight we put up today,” said head coach Jason Hamilton. “UCF is a quality team and the heat was brutal for us. We used a lot of bodies today and it was a full team effort.”
ECU improves to 1-3-2 overall and 1-1-2 in AAC play while UCF is 2-2-1 overall and in league play.
The Pirates nearly got on the scoreboard less than four minutes into the contest. Tori Riggs beat a pack of Knights to the ball in the UCF box and got a shot off, but Carolina DeLisle made the save from point blank range to deny Riggs.
Neither team got much going after Riggs’ try until the 43rd minute. After earning a corner kick, the Knights played it short and found Sarai Linder outside the ECU box. Linder swung in a cross and it found Ellie Moreno who finished to open the scoring.
After the late goal in the first half, UCF came out in the second half looking to double its lead. The Knights had a golden opportunity when Shamlou Trescott took a shot that seemed to be heading just inside the ECU goalpost, but English dove down and got a hand to it to prevent the goal.
While the shots and corner kicks were limited for East Carolina for most of the day, the Pirates took advantage of a corner late in the second half. After an ECU cross drifted towards the back post, DeLisle palmed it away for an ECU corner. Riggs stepped up and delivered an in-swinging cross the got past the initial UCF defenders and reached Madie Knaggs who headed home just inside the near post.
The Pirates had to weather a frantic final ten minutes of regulation as the Knights tried to regain the lead. Moreno first fizzed a shot just wide left and then a minute later, Moreno had another chance but English rose up to palm the shot away.
English was again called upon in the first overtime period. A Knight got to the ECU endline and cut a pass back to Moreno in the middle of the Pirate box. Moreno hit a quick shot but English was able to react and push it away to prevent the potential game-winning goal.
East Carolina had a pair of chances to win the game in the second overtime. Just seconds after subbing onto the field, Sydney Schnell got behind the UCF defense, but her first time shot dragged wide. With under three minutes remaining, Riggs found space outside the Knight box and curled in a shot with her right foot that required DeLisle to backpedal and just tip the ball over the crossbar.
“We didn’t have a great first half compared to the second half and the overtime periods,” Hamilton said. “We were much more competitive coming out in the second half. Each week, we are seeing improvements and giving ourselves a chance to be in these games. Believing in ourselves is important and we did better with that as the game went on.”
UCF had a large 23-7 lead in shots, but that advantage shrank to just 8-5 in shots on goal. The Knights had 12 corners to five for ECU. English finished with a career-high seven saves for ECU while DeLisle made four stops for the Knights.
“Right now, we are 1-1-2 in a very tough conference and sitting in the fourth and final spot of the tournament,” Hamilton added. “Against those same four teams last season, we were 0-4. That’s something we can use to show our group the progress we are making. Being in a position to control your own destiny is all you can ask for. It’s much better than having to chance games the last couple of weeks to sneak in.”
The Pirates will have another Sunday road test when they head to Dallas to take on SMU on March 21. That match will kickoff at 2 p.m., on ESPN+.