It was senior night for the No. 18 Bulls (13-2, 8-1) in Friday's matchup against War on I-4 rival UCF (9-6-1, 6-3). But that was not the largest component of the game.
It was also for the AAC regular season conference championship.
The Bulls needed to record a victory, or at worst a tie against the Knights, to secure the regular season AAC conference title and host the conference tournament beginning Wednesday Oct. 31.
They did just that, prevailing 1-0 against UCF.
Defenders Hanna Seybold and Kelly Burney and midfielders Jordyn Smith, Cassidy Kallenborn, Jordan Tuttle and Grace Adams were honored before the game on the field, and recognized with family and friends in front of more than 1,000 fans in celebration of the team’s senior leadership.
As for the game, USF controlled the ball and time of possession most of the contest, but couldn’t find the back of the net until late. The defense did its job allowing only eight shots all contest with goalkeeper
It was in the 82nd minute when USF’s leading goal scorer, Evelyne Viens, scored a left-footed strike as she methodically drifted across the box, past the diving UCF goalkeeper Vera Varis.
It was Viens’ third goal in the last two games and 18th goal overall, to extend her single season goal-scoring record. In the previous week, Varis was awarded Goalkeeper of the Week in the AAC.
“It was an excellent finish by Evelyne [Viens],” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “We fought the whole game. I really thought in the second half they made the adjustments we asked them to.”
It was Viens’ fifth game winning score.
It was a quick breather in the second half that gave Viens the energy to lead the Bulls to an outright regular season conference title.
“Coach talked to me and wanted me to go back in the game and do what I do best and that’s score,” Viens said. “I focused and did what I was supposed to do.”
Viens and the Bulls knew that it was no easy task getting past their rival, but having the home-field advantage in the conference-clinching match, and being ahead in the conference tournament, gave the Bulls an overwhelming advantage against their opponent.
The Bulls have won 14 consecutive games on its home turf.
“We know UCF, we battle against them every year,” Viens said. “We wanted to host the championship next week. It was a great win.”
Viens knows how important a regular conference title is, but the focus on the bigger picture is on her mind. She was happy to get the win for the seniors, but has not lost sight of what lies ahead.
“We are happy to be the champions but we know next week is the real championship,” Viens said. “USF is so good this year and we want to keep going.”