It’s time for the 2022 Black & Gold Banneret Awards!
Each year we pass out a bunch of awards honoring the best athletes, coaches, teams, and moments of the previous UCF Knights athletic year. Our staff votes, and so do you, the fans.
Here’s how it works: We, the staff, put together our nominees for each award. You can listen to our nominations podcast episode here. Over the next couple of weeks, we will open fan voting for each award. Each staff member gets one vote, and the winner of the fan vote will get one vote. If there is a tie, the fan vote will be the tiebreaker. We will announce the winners in two weeks.
Our 2022 Black & Gold Banneret Awards continue with Men’s Individual Performance of the Year. Here are your nominees:
Lleyton Cronje and Cooper White beat No. 1-ranked doubles pair in the country in 1st match together
VCU transfer Lleyton Cronje began his 2022 dual-match season paired with Bogdan Pavel. However, for the UCF Men’s Tennis team’s matchup against No. 3-ranked Ohio State, Cronje was instead paired with true freshman Cooper White who had only played in six doubles matches with Trey Hilderbrand to that point.
Cronje and White went up against the Buckeyes’ top doubles pair, Matej Vocel and Robert Cash. They finished the season (and were at the time) the No. 1-ranked collegiate doubles pair in the nation and were later the runners-up of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Doubles Championship.
The Knights duo, in their first competitive doubles match together, defeated the Buckeye duo, 6-3.
While the Buckeyes would take the doubles point by winning the other two doubles matches and end up sweeping UCF, 4-0, it was not a too shabby debut for a newly-formed doubles pair.
Alessandro Campoy scores 4 goals in a single game vs. Florida Gulf Coast
Stats: 4 Goals, 5 Shots On Goal, 6 Shots, 62 minutes played
On Sept. 11, fans at the UCF Soccer-Track and Field Complex bore witness to forward Alessandro Campoy accomplish something no male UCF soccer player has done since 1998: scoring four goals in a single match.
Only three have ever done it before, with the last being Heikki Ritvanen during a five-goal match in 1998. Ritvanen is also the last player to score four goals exactly in a single match, which happened a year prior in 1997.
The kicker in all this? Campoy’s four goals in this match account for all but one of his goals for the entire season. His five total season goals sits third on the team, two goals behind Gino Vivi, and all but one of them came in this one match
Campoy may not have played as many minutes as fellow forwards Lucca Dourado or Vivi had, but on Sept. 11, he took advantage of the time he had and produced history.
Connor Staine gets 10 strikeouts on No. 2 Ole Miss
Stats: 7.0 innings pitched, 2 hits allowed, 1 walk allowed, 10 strikeouts
Staine said this start was “number one” in his collegiate career, and it’s not hard to see why.
The Maryland transfer solidified his spot as the Knights’ premier pitcher by going seven innings and getting a career-high 10 strikeouts on the No. 2-ranked, and eventual College World Series Champion, Ole Miss Rebels.
It was just one half of a pitcher’s duel between the two teams, with the Knights coming out on top after 12 innings to get their lone win of the series, 1-0. While Chase Centala took the game the rest of the way in relief, Staine set the tone and shut down the Rebels' offense long enough to keep the Knights in the game for the action that followed afterward.
Connor Staine is dealing— UCF Baseball (@UCF_Baseball) March 5, 2022
He ties a career-high with 8️⃣ punch-outs!
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Darin Green and Brandon Mahan combine for 53 points vs. Michigan
Stats (Combined): 53 points, four steals, 10 rebounds, 18-of-23 (78%) shooting
While the Men’s Basketball season for 2021-22 had its shares of ups and downs, the outing against the Michigan Wolverines might have been the most perfect performance for the Knights in a single game in the Johnny Dawkins era. Sure it didn’t have the prestige associated with a tournament game, but it’s hard to deny the 85-71 victory spearheaded by the combined forces of Darin Green and Brandon Mahan.
Green’s fantastic 27 points with seven hoops from beyond the arc led the squad offensively. However, while Brandon Mahan had fewer points with 26, it’s impossible to deny that he was also good for seven rebounds tied with 7-foot center and team captain Cheikh Mbacke Diong for the most on the team that night. Lights-out shooting is one thing, but when players are literally all over the floor making plays everywhere while only combining for two turnovers, we were compelled to give this pair the treatment similar to Karl Malone and John Stockton of the NBA’s Utah Jazz in the late 80s and early 90s and counting them as a single great nominee.
Ryan O’Keefe earns Gasparilla Bowl MVP Honors
Stats: 7 receptions / 85 receiving yards / 1 receiving TD / 4 rushing attempts / 110 rushing yards
Head coach Gus Malzahn has said time and again. “When we make big plays we score touchdowns” — and no one made big plays throughout the season like Ryan O’Keefe. On the biggest stage the Knights featured in football last year, O’Keefe threw down 195 all-purpose yards and a touchdown as UCF shocked the state by beating the Florida Gators in the Gasparilla Bowl’s biggest game in its history. Moreover, on the play where he scored, he flashed deuces on his way into the endzone to pay tribute to the late Otis Anderson. Rushing, receiving, and remembering are what made up the great performance that earned this nomination.
Vote for who you think is the 2022 UCF Men’s Individual Performance of the Year below:
Which is the 2022 UCF Men’s Individual Performance of the Year?
This poll is closed
Lleyton Cronje and Cooper White vs. Ohio State
Alessandro Campoy vs. FGCU
Connor Staine vs. Ole Miss
Darin Green and Brandon Mahan vs. Michigan
Ryan O’Keefe vs. Florida