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Knight Cap: Men’s Soccer gets another win over ranked team, Volleyball sweeps on the road

Plus: Men’s Golf and Women’s Tennis play host to nationwide tournaments

Photo: Derek Warden

The past week of UCF Knights sports saw one team get another statement win, another team continues to dominate, and two individual athletes that had great performances in their respective sports, but came just short of winning it all. Plus, we name the Knight of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Tuesday, October 19.


Men’s Soccer comes back to beat #24 SMU

The UCF Men’s Soccer team beat its second straight Top 25 opponent Saturday night in a 2-1 road win over No. 24 SMU.

It was a game filled with storylines for the team. Fifth-year senior Nick Taylor got two shots on goal in his return to SMU for the first time since he transferred from there over the summer. Meanwhile, the team was playing without its head coach, Scott Calabrese, after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

As for the match itself, the Mustangs struck first, scoring their lone goal of the night in the 26th minute on a second effort by graduate student defender Brandon Terwege off of a corner kick. He got assists from senior defender Thomas Haney and senior midfielder Knut Alexander.

The UCF offense assaulted the net for the entire match, not converting many of its 14 shots on goal thanks to a career-high 10 saves from SMU’s sophomore goalkeeper Cole Johnson. For perspective, the Knights shot the ball 19 times, meaning 74 percent of their shots were on goal and 71 percent of those shots on goal were blocked by Johnson.

However, after a scoreless first half, UCF was able to get two past Johnson in the second half.

Despite getting himself a yellow card 10 minutes prior, senior midfielder Caleb Franke got an unassisted goal in the 59th minute to equalize the match. It was his first goal of the season.

Just over 10 minutes later, senior midfielder, and team captain, Mauricio Villalobos Vega curled the ball into the net in the 70th minute to give the match its final score. He was assisted by sophomore defender Anderson Rosa.

As for the UCF defense, the backline kept SMU’s scoring opportunities limited. Out of the Mustangs’ 11 shots, only 5 of them were on goal, nearly a third of how many shots on goal the Knights finished with.

Meanwhile, as for the shots that were on goal, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Tyler Lavigne delivered with four saves on the night, tying for the 2nd-most saves he has had in a single match this season.

Now that the Knights have handed the Mustangs their first home loss of the season, they now have to hit the road once more for their next match. The team travels to Philadelphia to face off with Temple at 7 p.m. on Friday.


Volleyball sweeps first of two road weekends

The UCF Volleyball team swept USF and Temple in three sets each last week.

The team extended its win streak over the Bulls to 17 matches after beating them, 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-23), on Wednesday. This also means that UCF has now won 12 straight sets over USF.

After handily winning the first two sets, the team had to fend off the Bulls late in the third set. Despite the Knights having the match point, the USF made a three-point run to make it one point away from a deuce. However, senior setter Amber Olson got the final kill, giving the Knights the set and the match.

Olson led the team in assists (33) and digs (8) in this match. Meanwhile, Senior outside hitter McKenna Melville led the team in kills (16) and aces (2), and tied for second in digs with junior setter Dresden Pass (7) and blocks with fifth-year senior right-side hitter Anne-Marie Watson (3). Only redshirt senior middle blocker Nerissa Moravec had more blocks that night, with four.

It was more of the same for the team in its victory with Temple on Sunday, 3-0 (25-9, 25-14, 25-23).

Once again, the first two sets were won with a wide margin, but the third set was a much close affair. While there was no three-point run this time, the Owls still got to within from point from forcing a deuce. This time, Melville was the one to get the final kill to end the match.

The stat leaders also mirror the match from earlier in the week. Once again, Melville led the team in kills (18) and aces (2), Moravec led in blocks (6), followed closely by Watson (5), and Olson led the team in assists (29) and digs (10). The only deviation came from sophomore libero Chloe Scheer, who finished her match with the second-most digs (9).

This marks the halfway point for the team’s four-match road stretch. Next weekend, UCF (14-6, 7-1 AAC) hit the road again to take on SMU on Friday at 8 p.m. and Memphis on Sunday at 2 p.m.


Women’s Tennis hosts ITA Regionals

The UCF Women’s Tennis team played host to the ITA Regionals this week, with five athletes competing in the main draw.

No. 80-ranked senior Evgeniya Levashova made it the furthest of the team. She upset No. 41-ranked Florida junior Carly Briggs (6-2, 6-1) and No. 15-ranked Georgia senior Meg Kowalski (6-4, 5-7, 6-1) to make it to the semifinals. However, she would end up falling to No. 125-ranked Florida State senior Petra Hule (6-4, 4-6, 0-6).

Hule also brought junior Marie Mattel’s tournament to an end when they faced off in the quarterfinals (6-4, 6-7(3), 7-5). Meanwhile, redshirt junior Nandini Sharma fell to Georgia junior Ania Hertel in the Round of 32 (6-2, 6-3).

Both redshirt senior Valeriya Zeleva and sophomore Jaleesa Leslie retired from their first-round matches due to injuries, while redshirt freshman Anique Kattenberg fell to Georgia Tech junior Rosie Garcia Gross in the second round of the qualifying draw (6-2, 6-1).

The injuries to Zeleva and Leslie took their toll in doubles action. Prior to their injuries, they both won with their respective partners in the first round. All three pairs, in fact, won their first-round matches.

The duo of Mattel and Sharma made it the furthest in the doubles draw, getting to the quarterfinals before falling to a duo from Florida, senior Sydney Berlin and freshman Alicia Dudeney (8-5).

Kattenberg and Leslie, coming off her injury the day prior fell in their second-round match to a duo from Florida International, senior Kamila Umarova and freshman Yasmine Kabbaj (8-3).

Finally, despite Levashova and Zeleva winning their first-round match against a duo from Georgia Southern, junior Paula Hijos and freshman Dana Heiman (8-4), the duo defaulted their second-round match due to Zeleva’s injury her singles match the previous day rendering her unable to continue, resulting in the duo’s disqualification.

The team will be back in action this weekend, as it hits the road to Athens, Georgia for the Georgia Invitational.


Men’s Golf hosts Isleworth Collegiate; Travale gets runner-up

The UCF Men’s Golf team hosted the Isleworth Collegiate in Windermere this week, with one of its own finishing on the podium individually.

The team combined to finish in 8th place with 877 (+13) strokes. No. 2-ranked Arizona State, No. 26-ranked Illinois, and No. 21-ranked Auburn took the podium spots with 853 (-11), 855 (-9), and 862 (-2) strokes respectively.

Senior Johnny Travale, the champion of the 2019 Isleworth Collegiate, came close to winning once again at Isleworth Country Club. He finished his tournament with 210 strokes (-6), coming up just one stroke shy of Illinois sophomore Piercen Hunt’s 209 (-7). Travale did, however, get 2nd place all to himself for his third-consecutive individual Top 3 finish this season.

As for the rest of the team, senior Teddy Tetak finished tied for 22nd with 219 strokes (+3), senior Luis Carrera ended up in a tie for 45th with 225 strokes (+9), sophomore Egor Eroshenko hit 228 strokes (+12) to tie for 58th, and senior Markus Braadlie got 65th place all to himself with a 230-stroke (+14) performance.

While playing as an individual, senior Clement Charmasson finished in a tie for 18th with 218 strokes (+2).

This tournament caps off the Men’s Golf team’s fall schedule. The spring season begins on Feb. 12, 2022, at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville.


Cross Country closes regular season in Tallahassee

The UCF Cross Country team finished off its regular season at the FSU Pre-Nationals on Thursday on the very course that will host the NCAA Cross Country National Championships on Nov. 20.

The team finished in 33rd out of 33 competing teams in the Garnet 6K with 1000 points.

In total, eight runners competed in the Garnet 6K. Freshman Valerie Lastra led the team, finishing in 180th place with a 22:10.3 time. Fellow freshman Kambry Smith, competing in her first collegiate 6K, finished with a 22:49.3 time in 212th.

Sophomore Mariana Rodriguez and freshman Isabella Babilonia finished close together, in 218th and 219th, at 23:00.9 and 23:01.9 respectively. Meanwhile, freshman Rachel Wheatley finished in 230th with a 23:31.2 time, junior Charlotte Crook came in 233rd with a 23:45.0 time, and freshman Mackenzie Czurak crossed the line in 240th with a 24:09.9 time.

Two runners also competed in the separate Open 6K as individuals. Sophomore Cyndi Turner finished in 196th with a 24:27.9 time, while freshman Camryn Williams came in 239th with a 25:45.9 time.

Distance Running Coach Bryan Jackson took to Twitter in response to the team’s performance.

“Rough day… but we will bounce back stronger and respond,” Jackson said. “[My] belief in the team is unchanged.”

The Knights begin the postseason with the American Athletic Conference Championship, which is being hosted at Holloway Park in Lakeland, on the morning of Oct. 29.


Knight of the Week

Mauricio Villalobos Vega, Men’s Soccer

The senior midfielder, and team captain, scored his first goal of the season to put the UCF Men’s Soccer team up 2-1 over No. 24 SMU. It ended up being the match-winning goal.

The goal gave the Knights its second straight win over a ranked program and its fourth consecutive win in a rivalry that fifth-year senior utility player Nick Taylor said was stronger than the War on I-4.

I think Steve Lansdale, play-by-play announcer for SMU Men’s and Women’s Soccer, explained it very well on the ESPN+ broadcast, so I’ll just let him take it from here.

“He looks into the center to find a teammate, and then has the presence of mind to not only aim for the corner but get a really tight curl on that ball,” Lansdale said. “There’s not a keeper in the country who would have pulled this down.”