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Women’s Soccer Starts Big 12 Tournament on Monday at #6 Seed

Knights have work to do to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament

Noah Goldberg

The UCF Knights (9-6-1, 5-4-1 Big 12) head to Round Rock, Texas this weekend for the 2023 Big 12 Soccer Championship as the 6-seed after a 3-2 regular season-closing loss at #7 BYU last Monday night.

The loss did not help the Knights’ case for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. Per NCAA Women’s Soccer guru Chris Henderson’s projection, they are one of the last teams out, alongside fellow Big 12 team Texas.

Henderson projects that the Big 12 will be a three-bid league, with Texas Tech (RPI #5) and BYU (RPI #7) looking like certain at-large selections should they fall early in the Big 12 Tournament. However, his third Big 12 team in the tournament, TCU, was projected as one of the last teams in.

Barring a Cinderella run from one of the lower-seeded teams, UCF, TCU, Texas, and potentially Oklahoma State will be making their case for an NCAA Tournament selection next week in Round Rock, Texas.

#6 UCF will face #3 TCU in the tournament opener on Monday night.

The Knights will be led by Second Team All-Big 12 forward Dayana Martin and Big 12 All-Freshman team selection Jessica McCullen.

As for the Horned Frogs (10-5-3, 6-2-2 Big 12), they enter the tournament as the #3 seed, putting them in a matchup with the Knights in the quarterfinals. Both teams averaged 1.44 goals per game this season, though TCU has the advantage in goals against average with a 1.00 to UCF’s 1.19 and has outshot the Knights, 236-172. They are led by First Team All-Big 12 selections Seven Castain (F) and Gracie Brian (MF) and Second Team All-Big 12 selections Grace Coppinger (D), Olivia Hasler (D) and Oli Pena (MF).

These two teams did not meet in the regular season, but whoever wins their matchup on Monday at 9 p.m. ET will keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

The Longhorns (12-4-2, 6-3-1 Big 12), the team of the Big 12’s Forward of the Year (Trinity Byars) and Midfielder of the Year (Lexi Missimo), could also make trouble for the Knights should both make it to the semifinals, as should the committee have to choose one or the other, Texas has a 3-1 head-to-head win in Orlando on its resume.

The most ideal scenario for UCF fans right of the gate in the Big 12 Tournament looks like this:

  1. UCF beats TCU
  2. Oklahoma State loses against either Oklahoma or BYU.
  3. Texas loses to West Virginia.

Should things work out the Knights’ way, it is a distinct possibility that both the UCF Men’s Soccer team (who was recently ranked #1 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll and #3 in the RPI Rankings) and the Women’s Soccer team will make the NCAA Tournament in the same season for the first time since 2011.

UPDATE: Since this story was initially published, the Big 12 announced that, due to forecasted inclement weather, that its soccer tournament’s quarterfinal matchups, including UCF vs. TCU, were going to be held at Mike A. Myers Stadium instead of at Round Rock.