Although Friday’s match marks just the second time in the last five seasons that UCF and North Carolina will meet on the pitch, the programs have a storied history. The programs have faced off 21 times since 1981, but perhaps the most memorable contest came when the squads met for the fourth time ever. In 1982, UCF played home to the inaugural NCAA Women’s College Cup. The Knights made a postseason run and faced the Tar Heels in the championship game. Ultimately, UNC prevailed 1-0 to capture the first NCAA title in women’s soccer history.
Fast forward 35 years.
This December, Orlando is once again the site of the Women’s College Cup, so it is only fitting that UCF and UNC find their paths crossing this season. North Carolina holds the all-time edge, 17-0-4. However, the Knights have several bragging points in the series. After dropping eight straight meetings against the Tar Heels, UCF, then 0-1, met a 1-0 UNC team at Bishop Moore High School in Casselberry in 1986. The squads played to a 1-1 draw after a pair of overtime sessions, ending the match in a tie. North Carolina went on to win the rest of its 23 games that season and finished with a record of 24-0-1 and a national title.
The last time North Carolina made the trip to Orlando was in 1986, when the squads again ended in a tie. From 1987-2011, the programs met 10 times, with three of those being NCAA tournament matchups. When UCF and UNC met in the third round of the 2011 NCAA tournament in Gainesville, they finished regulation knotted at 1-1. After two overtime periods, the score remained locked. The Knights advanced 5-4 on penalty kicks, sending them to their first Elite Eight since 1987. It also marked the first time that UCF advanced past the Tar Heels in postseason play.
In 2016, the squads faced off again, but this time, the series had an additional link. UCF head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak was a standout midfielder for UNC from 1995-98. Under head coach Anson Dorrance, Roberts Sahaydak won a pair of national titles (1996, 1997), was voted the 1998 ACC Tournament MVP and finished third in voting for collegiate soccer's highest honor, the Hermann Trophy. She still ranks among the top 10 in both games played and games started as a Tar Heel.
When UCF hosts No. 4 North Carolina on Friday, it will mark the first time that a top-five team has visited the UCF Soccer Complex under Roberts Sahaydak. It will also be the first top-five program outside of Florida State to make the trip to Orlando. For Roberts Sahaydak, the contest marks the third time that she will face her mentor since becoming a head coach.
The 7 p.m. contest marks another chapter in the history of two storied programs. The Knights find themselves facing a fourth-ranked Carolina team for the second straight week with the hope of a different outcome.
DON'T MISS OUT
The UCF women's soccer team is set for its fifth season under head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and will welcome six teams from the 2016 NCAA Tournament to the UCF Soccer Complex in 2017. Click here or call (407) 823-1000 for ticket information.
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