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Knight Cap: Women’s Soccer Clinches AAC Tourney Spot, Volleyball Sweeps Again

Plus: Hilderbrand finishes runner-up in the ITA Southeast Regionals

UCF Women’s Soccer Kristen Scott
Kristen Scott
Photo courtesy: UCF Athletics

The past week of UCF Knights sports saw one team secure a spot in their conference tournament, another team sweep two road opponents, and one athlete come just short of winning it all.

Plus, we name the Knight of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Tuesday, October 26.

Women’s Soccer secures conference tournament spot

The UCF Knights Women’s Soccer team secured a spot in the American Athletic Conference tournament after shutout wins over East Carolina and Temple:

The Knights’ offense took advantage of limited opportunities on the road against East Carolina, shutting out the Pirates, 2-0.

Despite UCF only getting off seven shots, five of them were on goal, and two of them got into the net.

Redshirt freshman defender Ariel Young headed the ball into the net in the 35th minute to put the Knights on the board first:

Not long into the second half, sophomore midfielder Katie Bradley scored the insurance goal, unassisted, in the 47th minute. It was her second goal of the season:

Despite the Pirates putting seven of their 16 shots on goal, redshirt junior goalkeeper Caroline DeLisle prevented all of them. She now has 70 on the season, 12 shy of the Top 10 in program history.

The team also shut out Temple for a 5-0 win for Senior Day.

The Knights stymied the Temple’s attempts, allowing only one shot the entire game.

Conversely, the Knights also shot the most shots and most shots on goal in a single match this season, with 15 of their 33 shots being on goal.

“I think our best defense today was actually our offense,” head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said after the match. “So, having to keep the ball and to score goals early, that was our best defense.”

The Knights did come out strong, scoring three goals in the first 15 minutes. Junior forward Ellie Moreno scored the first two; the first came in the 5th minute with an assist from senior forward Kristen Scott.

The second goal came in the 8th minute, unassisted:

Scott also went on to score two goals for herself. The first came in the 11th minute with an assist from Young:

Scott scored the second goal, unassisted, in the 63rd minute. It increased her season total to nine, most on the team.

The only other Knight not named Moreno or Scott to score in this match was Bradley. After coming in without having shot more than once in a single match all season, Bradley fired off eight shots in Sunday’s match, half of them on goal. One of those shots went into the net in the 89th minute for an unassisted goal, Bradley’s second in as many matches.

“Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the scoresheet, but if it wasn’t for my teammates getting me into good scoring positions, assisting me, and just working hard all together as a team, I wouldn’t have gotten a goal today,” Bradley said after the match.

The win locks UCF into the American Athletic Conference tournament with one regular season match to go, a Thursday road tilt with Cincinnati at 7 p.m. that could give Sahaydak her 100th win as UCF’s head coach. The only unknowns relate to the tournament’s seeding.

The highest seed the Knights can get is the 4th seed, which can happen with a UCF win and a Memphis loss on Thursday. If Memphis wins, however, the Knights can still get the 5th seed with a win or draw against the Bearcats. A loss to the Bearcats will leave the Knights in the 6th seed.

The match with the Bearcats can be streamed live on ESPN+.

Watch Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak’s post-game conference after the Temple match here (Kristen Scott and Katie Bradley’s postgames can be found on the Black and Gold Banneret YouTube Channel):

Volleyball sweeps two more conference foes on the road

UCF Volleyball completed its four-match road trip this weekend with sweeps of SMU and Memphis.

While the Mustangs hung around in the first two sets (25-22, 25-23), the Knights handily took the third, 25-17, to clinch the match on Friday.

Senior outside hitter McKenna Melville led the team in kills (22), followed by fifth-year senior right-side hitter Anne-Marie Watson (10). Melville was also in a three-way tie for the team lead in digs with junior setter Dresden Pass and freshman defensive specialist Katelyn Grimes (10). Meanwhile, senior setter Amber Olson led the team in assists (41), passing Becca Saldana for 6th place on the all-time career assists list.

“Amber did an unbelievable job of finding the open person, waiting long enough, & setting the right person,” head coach Todd Dagenais said. “This is probably one of the best matches she has ever set.”

While the Mustangs were worn down as the match went on, the Memphis Tigers closed in.

The Knights handily won the first set, 25-15, but the final two sets had much closer margins of victory (25-21, 25-22). Regardless, UCF completed its four-match road trip on Sunday with its fourth straight sweep.

Melville once again led the team in kills (19), followed by Watson (8). Pass got a few more digs to lead the team (10) but was closely followed by Melville and Grimes (8).

Melville currently sits 4th in Division I in kills this season with 398. She is also just 41 kills away from passing Miriam Metzcus for 3rd place on the UCF all-time career kills list.

The team bookends the month of October with rematches against Tulsa and Wichita State, this time at The Venue. The Knights face the Golden Hurricane on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Shockers at 1 p.m. on Halloween.

Men’s Soccer shuts out Temple

UCF Men’s Soccer had to take advantage of limited opportunities in its 3-0 win Friday over Temple.

Despite being out-shot by the Owls 15-9, both teams put six of them on the goal. For the Knights, half of those shots got past the Temple goalkeeper.

Sophomore forward Lucca Dourado got UCF on the board early. His 11th goal of the season came in the 4th minute off of a corner kick by junior forward Gino Vivi. The goal puts him in a tie for 8th in Division I for the most goals scored this season and tie for the lead in Division I with Belmont’s AJ Chastonay in game-winning goals this season.

Vivi went on to score the Knights’ other two goals himself. This match was the first time Vivi scored a goal since Sept. 6 against NC State. The pair of goals also doubled his season total to four.

While the Knights did allow more shots than they took against the Owls, the defense ensured more than half of the Owl’s shots would not be on target. As for the six shots that were on target, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Tyler Lavigne stopped all of them, tying his individual match career-high six saves. The match improved Lavigne’s record to 7-1.

With the win, UCF maintains its lead in The American table. While both the Knights and Tulsa have a 6-1 conference record (18 points), UCF currently holds the tiebreaker.

This week, the team hosts USF at 6 p.m. on Wednesday before hosting SMU at 6 p.m. on Halloween night. Both matches will stream live on ESPN+.

The SMU match marks the Mustangs’ first time back in Orlando since their loss to the Knights in the American Athletic Conference tournament in the spring, which was also the last game fifth-year senior utility player Nick Taylor played in an SMU uniform. For more on Taylor’s history with the Mustangs and how he switched sides in this rivalry, check out the feature the Banneret wrote on him earlier this month.

Hilderbrand finishes second at ITA Regionals

The UCF Men’s Tennis team traveled to Gainesville to compete in the ITA Southeast Regional Tournament, with junior Trey Hilderbrand taking the runner-up spot in the singles tournament.

Hilderbrand fell in the final on Monday to No. 31-ranked Georgia Tech redshirt sophomore Andres Martin (6-2, 5-7, 6-2).

Freshman JC Roddick, the nephew of head coach John Roddick, also made a deep tournament run. Roddick reached the quarterfinals, upsetting No. 85-ranked Florida State redshirt freshman Louis Pourroy along the way (6-3, 6-4). He lost the quarterfinal match to North Florida junior Dominik Barton (6-1, 6-2).

Junior Bogdan Pavel advanced to the Round of 16, falling to Florida Atlantic junior Alvaro Fernandez Horta (7-6(6), 6-3). Horta would later fall to Pavel’s normal doubles partner, Hilderbrand, in the semifinals.

As for the rest of the team, No. 70-ranked junior Lleyton Cronje, redshirt junior Bryan Triana and freshman Cooper White all lost in the first round of the main draw, though White’s loss did come at the hands of No. 14-ranked Florida senior Andy Andrade.

Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Quinn Snyder lost his first-round match in the qualifying draw to Florida Atlantic sophomore Finn Stodder (6-4, 7-6(4)).

In doubles action, Pavel and Roddick made their debut as a doubles pair but fell in the first round to the eventual doubles champions from Georgia Tech, No. 8-ranked Martin and redshirt sophomore Marcus McDaniel (8-3).

White and Triana bested sophomore Andreja Petrovic and redshirt junior Sebastian Arcila, a duo from Florida State, in the first round (8-6). However, they fell in the second round to a duo from Florida, Andrade and graduate student Mattias Siimar (8-1).

Andrade and Siimar also defeated Cronje and Hilderbrand, the UCF duo that made the deepest run in the tournament, in the quarterfinals (8-6).

The team will be split up between two simultaneous events next week to conclude the fall schedule. Those that are eligible will travel to San Diego, California for the ITA Fall Nationals, which run from Nov. 4-7. The rest of the team will remain behind in Orlando to host the UCF Invite, which runs from Nov. 5-7.

Women’s Tennis competes in Georgia Invitational

The UCF Women’s Tennis team traveled to Athens for the Georgia Invitational, facing opponents from Georgia, Florida, and Princeton.

In singles action, junior Marie Mattel, redshirt junior Nandini Sharma, and redshirt freshman Anique Kattenberg picked up the only UCF singles wins for the weekend.

The rest of the team, No. 20-ranked redshirt senior Valeriya Zeleva, No. 80-ranked senior Evgeniya Levashova, and sophomore Jaleesa Leslie all fell in their singles matches.

In doubles, Mattel and Sharma teamed up to go 2-1 for the invitational, Zeleva and Levashova went 1-2, and Leslie and Kattenberg finished 0-3.

The women that are selected for the ITA Fall Nationals will join the men in San Diego from Nov. 4-7. As for the rest of the team, they have a longer rest before the final event of the fall schedule, the UNF Invite, which runs from Nov. 12-14.

Knight of the Week

Gino Vivi, Men’s Soccer

Vivi was involved in all three of UCF’s goals in the 3-0 win over Temple. He got the assist on the first one, and scored the other two himself, unassisted.

That alone made him a contender for this week’s Knight of the Week, but the circumstances in which he scored those goals made him stand out from the crowd.

Vivi’s first goal came in the 39th minute. He stole the ball, drove it down the pitch, and passed it off for the assist. However, the shot by sophomore midfielder Ariel Hader was blocked, so Vivi recovered the ball off the block and drove it into the net.

The second goal came in the 47th minute. After receiving a long pass from the UCF side of the pitch, Vivi advanced the ball to the right-hand line of the penalty box and let it rip. The ball ricocheted off of the goalkeeper into the net.

After not scoring a goal since Sept. 6 against NC State, Vivi doubled his season goal total to four with two goals that show why he was named to the All-AAC and All-East Region First teams last season.