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Knight Cap: Women’s Golf Makes Program History; Volleyball and Women’s Soccer Split

Also: Two UCF alumnae compete in new professional rugby sevens league

UCF Head Women's Golf Coach Emily Marron with golfer Ashley Holder at the 2017 American Athletic Conference Championship (Photo: UCF Athletics)
UCF Head Women’s Golf Coach Emily Marron
Photo: UCF Athletics

The past week of UCF Knights sports saw one team rebound from a stunning upset with a statement win, one team breaking records en route to its first win of the season, and two teams splitting a pair of conferences matches. Plus, we name the Knight of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Wednesday, October 13.

Men’s Soccer hands #6 Tulsa first loss of the season

Check out my recap story for this match here.

Women’s Golf Gets Historic First Win of Season

The UCF Women’s Golf made program history on its way to getting its first win of the season at the Evie Odom Invitational in Virginia Beach, Virginia last week.

The team shot -6 (274) in the final round to win the tournament at +1 (841), seven strokes ahead of second-place College of Charleston.

The final round 274 is, per UCF Athletics, the lowest 18-hole team score in Evie Odom Invitational history and the third-lowest 18-hole score in program history, only falling short of two Schooner Fall Classic rounds on Oct. 5 and 6, 2014.

The team’s tournament total, 841, also set a record for the lowest 54-hole team score in Evie Odom Invitational history and became the lowest 54-hole team score in program history. The mark beat the 843 the team put up at the 2014 Schooner Fall Classic in October 2014.

The Knights also took home the individual victory thanks to junior Tunrada Piddon, who finished -10 (200).

Sophomore Jess Baker rebounded from shooting two +3 (73) rounds to shoot a -3 (67) final round to finish tied for 16th at +3 (213), her lowest 54-hole score and highest-place finish of the season.

As for the rest of the team, sophomore Camille Banzet finished the tournament in 18th at +4 (214), freshman Zoe Allaux finished tied for 20th at +6 (216), and senior Alyssa Lamoreux ended up in a tie for 31st at +12 (222).

Finally, graduate student Ana Laura Collado played the tournament as an individual, finishing tied for 64th with a +19 (229) tournament.

The team will have a couple-week break before traveling out to Wilmington, North Carolina for the Landfall Tradition on Halloween weekend (Oct. 29-31).

Men’s Golf captures team podium; 3 individuals in Top 3

While the UCF Men’s Golf team did not win the Carolina Collegiate Invite as a team Tuesday, three Knights did place in the individual Top 3 for the second tournament in a row.

As a team, the Knights finished 3rd at -14 (850), trailing five strokes behind first-place High Point (-19, 845) and three strokes behind runner-up Florida Gulf Coast (-17, 847).

Senior Johnny Travale won his second tournament in a row, finishing at -7 (209). This is Travale’s second consecutive win this season. It is also the third of his career, tying him with Ricardo Gouveia, Joe Regnor, Andrew Rice, Manuel Elvira, and Bobby Bai for the third-most individual wins in program history.

Close behind Travale, finishing at -6 (210), was fellow senior Luis Carrera. He captured 2nd place all for himself with a birdie on his final hole. This is also Carrera’s 3rd consecutive Top 10 finish this season in as many tournaments.

Coming amidst a tie for 3rd place, senior Markus Braadlie, playing as an individual, finished his tournamernt at -5 (211). This the Texas Tech transfer’s lowest score so far this season. He also hit the lowest round of the tournament, a 64 (-8), tying him with Travale for the team’s lowest 18-hole score of the season and the fourth-lowest 18-hole score in program history.

Also finishing in the Top 20 were sophomore Egor Eroshenko and senior Teddy Tetak. Eroshenko finished in a tie for 16th at -1 (215), while Tetak ended up in a tie for 20th at even par (216).

Rounding out the team was senior Clemon Charmasson, who finished in a tie for 47th at +8 (224).

The team has a quick turnaround time to prepare for its home event and final tournament of the fall schedule, The Isleworth Collegiate at the Isleworth Golf and Country Club. The tournament begins on Sunday, Oct. 17 and runs to Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Women’s Soccer rebounds from War On I-4 loss with first conference win

The first match of the week for the UCF Women’s Soccer team ended in heart-wrenching fashion as USF freshman midfielder Emilie Lajmiri scored the match-winning goal with 50 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, giving USF the 2-1 win.

Prior to that, both teams had traded first-half goals. USF sophomore defender Lucy Roberts scored at exactly the 23-minute mark with an assist from junior forward Sydny Nasello. Meanwhile, the Knights scored in the 36th minute with senior forward Dayana Martin’s first goal of the season with assists from junior forwards Ellie Moreno and Talia Gabarra.

It was not for lack of trying that the UCF offense was prevented from scoring. Despite taking 21 shots, only nine of them were on goal. Meanwhile, the Bulls’ 2020 Second Team All-American goalkeeper, junior Sydney Martinez, got eight saves.

In comparison, the Bulls offense shot the ball 10 times, half of them on goal. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Caroline DeLisle finished her night with three saves.

Despite ample offensive opportunities, the Knights offense was unable to get past Martinez enough, keeping the game close as the backline allowed the Bulls offense to make plays when it mattered the most.

“I think we had clear opportunities, we just didn’t execute tonight,” head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said after the match. “We just have to better in both boxes, defensively and in attack, and I think the name of the game is always execution. You can have the ball for a long time, but if you can’t execute, then it might not go your way.”

Despite the loss, the team rebounded three days later to get its first conference win of the season, 3-0, over Tulsa and get head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak her 150th career win as a head coach.

Similar to the USF match, the Knights shot the ball at the goal more times than their opponent, but the Golden Hurricane was able to take advantage of fewer opportunities with a shot on goal. The Knights finished with 15 shots, seven of them on goal, while Tulsa had seven shots, with four of them on goal. Both Deslisle and Tulsa’s goalkeeper, graduate student Emma Malsy, had four saves on the match.

This time, however, the UCF offense was able to convert on its ample scoring opportunities. The first one came less than a minute into the game when junior midfielder Sanja Homann scored her first-ever collegiate goal with assists from Moreno and senior forward Kristen Scott.

Scott would get a goal of her own, with assists from Moreno and Homann, in the second half at exactly the 58-minute mark. It was the team leader in goals’ first goal since Sept. 19.

Moreno added on an insurance goal in the 68th minute with an assist from Martin for good measure.

Thanks to this offensive execution and continued vigilance at the net by DeLisle, UCF (6-5-1, 1-3-1 AAC) was able to capture its first conference win of the season.

The team has a week off before it goes for conference win No. 2 against East Carolina. The match will be on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Volleyball splits conference foes

The UCF Volleyball team split its two conference matches this weekend.

While there was one notable individual achievement on the court, the team suffered its first conference loss of the season on Friday, courtesy of Houston, 3-2.

The team found itself in a similar position to last week’s Wichita State match, winning the first set (25-13), losing the next two sets (25-23, 25-20), then winning the fourth set (25-22) to force a fifth set. The difference between the Shockers and the Cougars, however, is that the Cougars prevailed in said fifth set (15-12).

“It was a tough way to lose, but as a team, we really have two choices,” head coach Todd Dagenais said. “Either we can fracture and go into a shell or we could pull together in adversity, and that’s fully what I expect from this team.”

Despite the loss, senior setter Amber Olson, who led the team with 34 assists, did earn the family bragging rights during this match. After her 27th assist of the match, at the beginning of the third set, she passed her sister, Erin Olson, for 8th on the all-time career assists list.

“I honestly didn’t even know I beat her record; it was never a goal of mine or something that was on my radar to accomplish,” Amber Olson said. “Erin has always been someone I have looked up to as a volleyball player and I miss being able to play with her.”

Senior outside hitter McKenna Melville once again led the team in kills, with 16, followed by fifth-year senior right-side hitter Anne-Marie Watson, with 13. Melville was also second in digs, with 13, only beaten by Olson, who had 17. Watson also joins redshirt senior middle blocker Nerissa Moravec to lead the team in blocks, with five apiece, followed by junior middle blocker Claudia Dillon with four.

The team rebounded two days later, on Sunday, with a 3-1 victory over Tulane.

This time, the Knights took the first two sets (25-13, 25-22), and while they did drop the third set (25-16), they took the fourth set to cement the win (25-18).

Melville and Watson were once again the Top 2 for kills, with 14 and 11 respectively, closely followed by senior outside hitter Tali Marmen, who had 10. Melville was also 2nd once again in digs, with 10, only trailing sophomore libero Chloe Scheer, who had 20. Moravec also led the team once more in blocks, with six, followed by Olson with three.

The team now begins a four-game stretch on the road. This week begins with a Wednesday match against USF in Tampa at 7 p.m. Then, on Sunday at 1 p.m., the team travels to Philadelphia to take on Temple.

Men’s Tennis Competes in ITA All-Americans

Four Men’s Tennis players competed at the ITA All-American Championships this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Junior Trey Hilderbrand made it the farthest of the quartet in singles action, being the only one to make it to the main draw. He ended up falling in his first main draw match to Mississippi State graduate student No. 27-ranked Florian Braska (6-1, 6-3). He would finish the tournament 3-2 overall.

As for the rest of the team, junior Bogdan Pavel finished 2-1, with a highlight win over Texas redshirt sophomore No. 64-ranked Cleeve Harper (6-3, 7-5). Meanwhile, fellow Junior No. 70-ranked Lleyton Cronje went 1-1 and senior No. 88-ranked Kento Yamada went 0-2.

None of the quartet got a win in doubles action.

Cronje and Yamada lost their only match in the first round of the qualifying draw to TCU duo, junior Luc Fomba and sophomore Pedro Vives.

Meanwhile, No. 3-ranked Hilderbrand and Pavel were locked into the main draw and the No. 1 seed. However, the duo was upset in the first round by a duo from Texas, Harper and senior Richard Ciamarra. The duo would also lose their consolation match to finish their tournament 0-2.

The team will not have to travel as far for their next tournament, since the ITA Regionals are hosted in Gainesville, Florida from Oct. 21-25.

Two Women’s Tennis athletes compete in ITA All-Americans

Senior Evgeniya Levashova and redshirt senior Valeriya Zeleva competed in the ITA All-Americans in Charleston, South Carolina this week.

Both women went 1-1 for the tournament.

The No. 80-ranked Levashova fell in her first-round qualifying match to No. 27-ranked Ole Miss senior Sabina Machalova (7-6(2), 6-1), but defeated Utah senior Madeline Lamoreaux (6-0, 6-2).

Meanwhile, the No. 20-ranked Zeleva had already been secured a spot in the main draw. She won her first match over Washington senior No. 14-ranked Vanessa Wong (2-6, 6-4, 6-1), but fell in the Round of 16 to Iowa sophomore No. 12-ranked Alexa Noel (6-7(6), 6-2, 6-1).

The team will be hosting the ITA Regionals this week at the USTA National Campus from Oct. 14-18.

Two UCF Alumnae Compete in New Professional Rugby Sevens League

Premier Rugby Sevens, a new professional rugby sevens league, hosted its inaugural championship on Saturday with two UCF alumnae making it the championship match.

Kristen Thomas, recently coming off competing in the Olympics in Rugby Sevens, played for the Headliners. She scored four tries throughout the day, including two in the championship match.

Meanwhile, Cortney Keuhl, former president of the UCF Women’s Rugby Club, competed with the Loonies. While she did not see any playing time in the championship, her team made it to the championship match to face off against Thomas’ Headliners.

While the Headliners got the best of the Loonies, 22-10, in Round Robin play, the Loonies would give the Headliners their only loss of the tournament in the championship match, 28-14.

With the Paris Olympic Games three years away, USA Rugby’s General Manager of Women’s High-Performance Emilie Bydwell said the tournament was a great way to see what all the players had to offer as Team USA prepares to go for a medal in said Olympics.

Knight of the Week

Tunrada Piddon, Women’s Golf

Piddon’s -10 (200) tournament at the Evie Odom Invitational, led the team in a win that set both tournament and team scoring records. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Her -10 (200) 54-hole score set the new lowest 54-hole score in program history, beating out Elizabeth Moon’s 203 at the very same course in 2018. Also, yes, she beat the all-time 54-hole scoring record by three strokes.

En route to this scoring record, Piddon consistently shot some of the lowest 18-hole scores in program history as well. She shot a 67 in the first and third rounds, tying for the third-lowest 18-hole score in program history, which was most recently done by herself in September 2019. Meanwhile, her second round 66 tied for the second-lowest 18-hole score in program history, which was most recently done by her teammate, Ana Laura Collado, in May 2019.

This performance continues a season of low scores for Piddon, so low in fact that she is currently on pace to break her own single-season scoring average record she set in 2019-20, a 71.9. So far this season, her average is an even 70.0.

However, just by winning this tournament, she becomes the first female UCF golfer to win a tournament individually since April 2017 and just the 4th -ever female UCF golfer to win a tournament individually in program history. Piddon now joins a club that also includes Kristen Putnam, Liz Early, and Ashley Holder.

Finally, per UCF Athletics, Piddon has also set the new 54-hole course record for the Princess Anne Country Club and her final round hole-in-one on the 7th hole was just the second hole-in-one in the Evie Odom Invitational’s three-year history (Oh yeah, she hit a hole-in-one too, did I not mention that?).