The college soccer season is wrapping up for both of the UCF Knights teams. This year was a tale of two dramatically different fates for the men’s and women’s teams.
The UCF women won their second American Athletic Conference (AAC) regular season championship in a row. Finishing with 16 wins and only four losses (8-1 in conference play), the Knights found themselves ranked 16th in the nation. The Knights’ record was certainly helped by their impressive 27-1 goal ratio while playing at home.
Their one and only conference loss this year came to UConn, the team they ended up playing in the AAC semifinals. In the tournament, the normally explosive UCF strikers could not overcome the UConn defense for a second time this season, losing by another 1-0 score line.
All is not lost however, as the UCF women have qualified for their eighth consecutive and 19th overall NCAA Championship Tournament. They are scheduled to start tournament play against Georgia on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the UCF Soccer Complex.
A fantastic season was punctuated by an impressive array of personal awards. Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak was named AAC Coach of the Year for a second straight year. Senior Tatiana Coleman was co-AAC Offensive Player of the Year, while Connie Organ and Carleigh Williams were named AAC Goalkeeper and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Eight players won first-team all-conference honors and two were named to the all-rookie team.
The UCF women’s soccer team also maintained an impressive 3.0 grade point average among its student athletes. The team will graduate five players this season, including key players Coleman and Williams. The Knights will return a solid core of players, meaning the team will look to be competitive once again in the ACC.
On the other hand, the UCF men did not see the same success on the field this year. In what should be considered a rebuilding year, with a very young squad containing only three seniors, the Knights managed a two-win, six-tie, and 10-loss season. Despite the poor record, the team was competitive this year in all of its games, with the exception of a lopsided 2-4 loss away at 17th-ranked perennial powerhouse Indiana.
The Knights’ season ended on a sour note, with an uncharacteristically poor defensive showing. They were decimated at the back with four unanswered goals by SMU in the AAC quarterfinals.
Two Orlando City Under-23 players also ply their trade for the UCF Knights—Florida native Javier Clavijo (D/M) and Jamaican Romario Williams (F/M). Both played 17 games for the team, with Williams tallying a team-high seven goals and three assists.
To return to competitive form the men’s team will need to improve on its goals and shots per game, which both were overshadowed by their opponents this season. Additionally, the Knights were unable to score any goals in the seven games they managed to push into overtime. If there is a positive aspect to this season, it is that coach Bryan Cunningham will return a significant core of his now-experienced players next year.