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Volume 71, Issue 48, Thursday, November 3, 2005

Sports

Golden Knights end Cougars' season

By Pin Lim
The Daily Cougar

The Cougars tasted their first piece of the Conference USA Women's Soccer Tournament action since 2002 and showed no sign of the jitters when they took on first-seeded Central Florida on Wednesday at the Rice Track/Soccer Stadium.

The action started quickly and the players were filled with energy and emotion. Houston took the first strike when freshman Courtney Gaines drilled in a penalty kick at the 9:16 mark. Not long after that, UCF's Roberta Pelarigo took an assist from Kate McCain from six yards out and tied up the match at the 13:29 mark. 

With no hesitation, the Golden Knights looked to put the early pressure on Houston, playing aggressively and coming up with another goal just two minutes after their first. UCF's Hanna Wilde put in a header that came in the box off a cross from Jennifer Montgomery. 


Junior Sophia Mundy evened out the score at two a piece during UH's battle against Central Florida at the Conference USA tournament. Mundy finished the season with 14 goals and was named to the All Conference USA First Team.
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

With less than one minute left in the first half, the Cougars made a charge. The ball was heavily contested as both senior Kristin Bay and sophomore Jessica Green knocked the ball around, but it managed to trickle toward the teams leading scorer, junior Sophia Mundy. Mundy quickly took the advantage and rifled one past the UCF goalkeeper Julie Snaman to tie the game at two a piece.

Houston made some adjustments from the first half and implemented a strategy, flipping Gaines and Mundy.

"That was one of the changes we made," head coach Bill Solberg said. "We wanted Sarah Fisher to double down a little, but more on Roberta (Pelarigo). We moved Sophia back to midfield, who--s a little bit quicker, but still had (Gaines) up top."

The second saw a lot less fireworks. Both teams clamped down on defense, with UCF allowing four shots and UH allowing three. At the 67:00 mark, Pelarigo put in the go-ahead and game-winning goal when Jessalyn Withers assisted the second header of the match for UCF. The Cougars had their chances in the second half, with three corner kicks to none for the Golden Knights, but could not capitalize.

"I thought the adjustments we made at halftime put a little bit of a scare to them in the second half," Solberg said. "It was so enjoyable to coach the second half. I thought we absolutely dominated the second half.

"The team is just resilient on what we ask them to do, they just go out there and give us their best and execute a game plan and we did it again today and we just fell short."

The Cougars' season comes to a close, but not before a glimpse of what this team is capable of doing next season. Houston will be returning all but two players from 2005. Seniors Stephanie Pucek and Bay will leave the team, and both will be missed. 

"We're losing our seniors Stephanie Pucek and Kristin Bay," Solberg said. "Kristin had a great year, able to hold the ball for us, win headers, (and) Stephanie just really came on the end, to me was an all conference type of goalkeeper. Losing those players, we just have to work."

Playing a full season with 13 new players will be a tremendous help to the Cougars' chemistry next season. The team expects 10 new recruits by 2006 and two key components on this team, Mundy (All C-USA First Team) and Gaines (All C-USA Freshman Team) will return. Both will look to ignite an already good offense and take Houston to the next level of play.

"The way we jelled together for an entire season, I'm extremely proud," Solberg said. "Wouldn' trade it for the world. I can't wait for next season."

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