TULSA, Okla. –Senior forward Babayele Sodade scored the game's only goal to lift the No. 16 UAB men's soccer team past No. 22 UCF, 1-0, in the semifinals of the 2011 Conference USA Tournament.
The victory moves the Blazers into the tournament's championship game for the first time since 2004.
UAB, the tournament's No. 2 seed, will meet fifth-seeded SMU for the C-USA Tournament title, which will be played on Sunday. The Mustangs defeated top-seeded South Carolina, 1-0, in the first semifinal contest. The Championship game will be televised live on CBS Sports with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. CT
The Blazers will be looking for their C-USA Tournament championship since 1999.
"This team just finds ways to win," UAB head coach Mike Getman said. "Tonight we combined a very strong defensive effort with a great offensive effort and beat a very good UCF team. Babayele's goal was world class and once we have the lead, we are a hard team to beat.
"I am very proud of how this team has played all year long. One more strong performance and this team will get the recognition they deserve."
With the victory, UAB improved to 13-3-3 on the campaign. Additionally, the Blazers will carry a nine-game unbeaten streak (8-0-1) into the championship game. The last time UAB dropped a game came on Oct. 4 in a 1-0 defeat to South Carolina. The Blazers have outscored the competition, 14-4, and recorded six shutouts over the nine-game stretch.
It was the second time this season the Blazers have topped the Knights by a 1-0 score. UAB also won by that count on Oct. 15 at West Campus Field.
Just like that last game, it was Sodade who scored the game's lone goal, which came in the 66th minute.
On Friday night, Sodade, who earned first-team all-conference honors earlier in the week, scored in the 12th minute of play, which marked his team-best 13th goal of the season and was his league-leading eighth game-winner. The tally was set up when sophomore midfielder Moses Adeniran sent a long cross into the box from approximately 40 yards out. Sodade gathered the ball and drilled a shot which beat UCF goalkeeper Shawn Doyle for the 1-0 lead.
From there, the UAB defense and senior goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski took charge. Woszczynski, who made a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year honors throughout the season, certainly made a statement in the semifinals. The second-team all-conference honoree recorded an incredible 11 saves to keep one of the top-scoring teams in the country without a goal.
"I thought tonight Carl showed why he is the top keeper in our league and maybe the nation," Getman said. "He had a quite first half but a spectacular second half.When we needed him to make the play, he did every time."
Woszczynski, a native of Columbus, Ind., now has seven shutouts in the season which rank fourth in school history, while his 18 career shutouts are the second-most in program lore.
UCF forward McKauly Tulloch, who recorded a hat trick against Memphis in the quarterfinals, led the Knights with four shots on the evening.
UCF outshot UAB, 15-10, for the game, including an 8-1 margin over the final 45 minutes. However, the Blazer defense, which entered the event having given up the fewest goals and the lowest goals against average by any league team, anchored down and prevented the Knights from tying the contest.
Now the Blazers will have a chance to bring home a trophy from a conference championship for the first time in 12 years.
UAB collected a 1-0 win over SMU in the lone match played between the two teams on the season, which came on Oct. 26 in Dallas. In addition to Sunday's match being televised nationally, it can also be followed by logging onto Gametracker.