No. 20 UCF Tops Mustangs In C-USA Semifinals, 2-0
Nov. 3, 2012
El PASO, Texas (SMU) - The SMU Mustangs fought hard against No. 20 UCF in the Conference USA semifinals on Friday night, almost sending the game into overtime in the closing minutes, but ultimately could not find the back of the net in a 2-0 defeat at University Field in El Paso, Texas.
SMU finishes the 2012 campaign with a 9-8-4 record. The third-seeded Knights advance to face Tulsa in the C-USA Championship on Sunday.
UCF took the lead in the 64th minute when Tishia Jewell threw the ball in to Ashley Nicol, who dribbled past a pair of SMU defenders on the right side. Nicol then dumped the ball off to Kristina Trujic who found herself open at the top of the box and sent a left-footer to the upper-left corner, just past the outstretched arms of Mustangs goalkeeper Lauryn Bodden.
The Mustangs started to up the pressure from there on out, trying to create a tying goal. With 10 minutes left, forward Briana Gaines re-entered the game to replace defender Shelby Hartweck to add an extra attacker on the field. The Mustangs had numerous scoring chances in the closing minutes, but none better than Kenzie Scovill's with less than two minutes remaining. The senior received a ball from Shelby Redman from the left side after Scovill came flying in off the right post, but her header went just a few feet wide of the left post.
UCF controlled possession for most of the first half, but could not get past SMU's sturdy defense. The Mustangs regularly brought 10 defenders back every time the Knights tried to sustain pressure.
"We had to absorb them a little bit and hope to get going forward," Head Coach Chris Petrucelli said. "We were never really able to do that. UCF was really good physically. They were hard, they were strong and they played fast and pressured us well."
SMU evened out the pressure to start the second half by completing more passes along each side of the pitch. The Mustangs hoped to put the Knights back on their heels, but Trujic's goal made SMU's plan more challenging to execute.
Shortly after Scovill's opportunity to tie the game, a defensive breakdown caused by the Mustangs pressuring in the last minute led to a breakaway for Trujic, who was able to beat Bodden one-on-one to give UCF an insurance goal and a 2-0 lead.
The Mustangs' effort was very evident on Friday night, and other than the result, Coach Petrucelli was pleased with what his team gave him in the game.
"We competed absolutely as hard as we could compete, and that's all you can ever as of your team," Petrucelli said. "They were good. They worked hard, and they fought every minute of the game. I was actually really proud of the way our kids played."
This contest marked SMU's last as a member of the C-USA. The Mustangs move to the Big East for the 2013-14 season in all sports.