ORLANDO – Miami got its first goal of the season from an unlikely candidate, but fell to No. 23 UCF 2-1 on the road Sunday afternoon.
With her team trailing 2-0 in the 64th minute, goalkeeper Emily Lillard took her normal spot for a free kick near half field. The senior’s drive from distance was mishandled by UCF’s Connie Organ, however, resulting in what Lillard said was her first goal since high school.
"I'm never trying to necessarily score, because it's pretty unlikely," Lillard said. "I usually drive it just over the holding line's head and try to get somebody to run onto it."
Lillard made seven saves on the afternoon, but a brace from UCF’s Tatiana Coleman – with goals coming in the 30th minute and 53rd minute – gave the hosts a win in their season opener and dropped Miami to 0-2-0.
“We came out very flat in the first 45 minutes with no energy,” head coach Mary-Frances Monroe said. “We all know that to compete against the top level teams, we need to be plugged in for 90 minutes.”
Miami built momentum in the second half, and Lillard’s tally cut into the UCF lead. Monroe said a few personnel changes made the difference in an improved run of play in the final period.
“We played a better second half with a few reserves stepping into key roles, but it came too late in the match,” Monroe said.
Five different players registered shots for the Hurricanes, but only Lillard put one past UCF’s Organ, who was up to the challenge. The Hurricanes started the same lineup used in their matchup with No. 8 Florida Friday, while transfer Katie Bourgeois made her Hurricanes debut.
“We have some things to work on in preparation for next week’s games. It’s coming together – now we have to play for 90 minutes.”
The Hurricanes will next take on visiting FGCU (1-0-0) in their home opener on Fri., Aug. 29. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Cobb Stadium.