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KnightCap: Women’s Soccer Bounces Back as DeLisle Makes History

Plus: Volleyball enters gauntlet unbeaten in Big 12 play

Noah Goldberg

This past week of UCF Knights sports saw one team make history, one team conclude its regular season and another team maintain an unblemished conference play record.

We recap all of that action, plus we give you our Knight of the Week and Play of the Week in your Knight Cap for Monday, October 16, 2023.

Volleyball enters gauntlet in AVCA Top 25

The UCF Volleyball team preserved its unblemished conference play record with a sweep of West Virginia and a close 3-2 victory over Kansas State.

The wins elevated the Knights (16-2, 7-0 Big 12) into the AVCA Top 25 poll for the first time in 2023 at #24, but sent them down five spots to #36 in the RPI rankings.

Outside hitter Lauren Clark led the way with 14 kills on Saturday night against the Wildcats, her second-most kills in a match this season. Libero Chloe Scheer achieved 20 digs and Abby Hansen picked up four of the Knights’ seven blocks.

“I think we stayed consistent,” outside hitter Emily Wilson said. “Even though we had our ups and downs, we still fought.”

For the third time in 2023, The Venue added another match to its Top 10-largest crowds list, as 1,558 people witnessed Saturday night’s win, the 7th-largest in program history.

“Having that environment, especially when we’re having those ruts that we had when we need to create the energy and the crowd’s already creating for us, just really helps us kick it up a notch and roll into that fifth set and win that,” Wilson said.

The Knights will hit the road next weekend for a couple of matches against Baylor beginning an 11-match stretch to end the season in which every opponent is ranked in the RPI Top 50.

“They understand that every team is going to be completely prepared for you, they’re going to make adjustments, and it’s really limiting those runs because there’s talent on both sides of the net,” head coach Jenny Maurer said. “There’s ability, there is preparation that, at the end of the day, you just have to execute and you’ve got to be able to stop them and manage. It’s a game of errors and you have to manage that.”

Next up:

at Baylor - Saturday at 3 p.m. (Big Xll Now/ESPN+) and Sunday at 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

Women’s Soccer rebounds and record falls

The UCF Women’s Soccer team bounced back from its pair of losses last week with a 1-1 draw against #6 Texas Tech on Senior Knight and a 1-0 win on the road over Cincinnati.

While the unbeaten Red Raiders did leave Orlando with a point, the Knights outshot the unbeaten Big 12 leader, 14-12 overall and 6-3 in shots on goal. Just one of those shots went in the net.

In her final regular-season match in Orlando, forward Dayana Martin picked up her seventh assist of the season, heading a pass from midfielder Katie Bradley toward midfielder Maggie Jenkins, who directed the ball into the net. The 57th-minute goal was Jenkins’ second of the season.

“I kind of just know where to put the ball and our teammates are good enough to finish it,” Martin said after the match.

While the Red Raiders were able to equalize later on in the 68th minute to force a draw, head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said that the match still felt like a bounce back.

“I know we would have loved to get the win, but I’m focused on our team’s mentality and the way that they play for each other and commit to each game and today was another level of commitment,” Sahaydak said.

The momentum continued on the road, as Bradley scored her third goal of the season with a 15th-minute penalty kick. Despite shooting five shots on goal out of eight total shots, it was the only goal of the day on either side.

The shutout of the Bearcats marked the 31st for goalkeeper Caroline DeLisle’s career, setting a new program record, eclipsing Karen Richter’s 30.5 shoutouts from 1987-1990.

The wins send the Knights (9-5-1, 5-3-1 Big 12) up 14 spots to #45 in the RPI rankings and keep them tied with West Virginia and Texas for fourth place in the Big 12 standings at 16 points. With fifth-place Oklahoma State four points behind with one match remaining, UCF has secured a place in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Knights can get as high as the #3 seed in the tournament with a victory over BYU and a loss from Texas against TCU next Monday night.

Next up:

@ BYU - Monday, 8 p.m., Big Xll Now/ESPN+

Dourado lifts Men’s Soccer over Old Dominion

The #2 UCF Men’s Soccer team pulled out a road victory over Old Dominion Saturday night, 2-1.

Forward Lucca Dourado sent both shots into the net, increasing his career goal total to 36. The first came on a penalty kick in the 12th minute.

However, that goal was answered by Old Dominion forward Jonas Schmalbach, a former Knight, in the 70th minute.

Dourado got UCF back on top in the 82nd minute, ricocheting the ball off a Monarch defender into the net.

“We were relieved to get the goal, and the game in that second half, and for periods in that second half, wasn’t the game we were hoping to create,” head coach Scott Calabrese said in a press release.

Old Dominion outshot the Knights on its home turf, 14-11 overall and 8-5 in shots on goal. Goalkeeper Juanvi Munoz picked up seven saves, his second-most of the season.

The win keeps UCF (7-1-2, 3-1-1) at #2 in the RPI rankings and also moves it into second place in the Sun Belt standings, one point ahead of West Virginia and five points behind a 12-0 Marshall.

Next up:

vs. Coastal Carolina - Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN+

@ South Carolina - Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN+

Cross Country wraps up regular season at Texas A&M

The UCF Cross Country team concluded its short regular season on Friday in College Station, Texas with the Arturo Barrios Invitational 6K.

The Knights finished in the middle of the pack, taking home 22nd place with 548 points out of a 42-team field.

A few other Big 12 teams found themselves in the field. When accounting for only those teams, UCF only came short of Texas Tech, who finished in 18th with 493 points. The Knights beat out Oklahoma (25th), Houston (27th) and Baylor (34th).

Individually, sophomore Isabella Richardson got to add her name to a new section of the program record books thanks to her 20:57.2, which got her 75th place in a 393-runner field.

It was the eighth-fastest 6K run in program history, the fastest 6K run in program history run by someone not named Anne-Marie Blaney, and Richardson joins Blaney as the only Knights to run a sub-21:00 6K.

Richardson was one of eight runners to set a new 6K personal best at the meet and one of three to join the program’s top 6K times list, the other two being senior Mariana Rodriguez and junior Lillian Holtery.

Rodriguez’s 21:00.9, which got her an 85th-place finish overall is the new ninth-fastest 6K time in program history. Meanwhile, Holtery’s 21:21.3, which got her a 116th-place finish overall, is the 16th-fastest 6K time in program history.

Check out the full results from the meet here. The Knights will run a 6K once again when they compete for the Big 12 Championship on Oct. 28.

Next up:

Big 12 Championships - Oct. 28, 12 p.m., ESPN+

Men’s Tennis Doubles Pair Advances to ITA Fall Championships

The UCF Men’s Tennis team will once again be represented at the ITA National Fall Championships in November.

Senior Lleyton Cronje and sophomore UT Arlington transfer Santiago Giamichelle will be heading to San Diego after capturing the ITA Southwest Regional Championship thanks to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Georgia Tech’s Richard Biagiotti and Gabriele Brancatelli.

En route to their championship, the duo also upset the #24 doubles pair in the country (USF’s Erik Grevelius and Alvin Tudorica) in the semifinals (6-4, 6-3). According to head coach Lloyd Bruce-Burgess in a press release, this is just the second time the duo have played together.

The Knights also made some other deep runs in the Atlanta-hosted tournament. In singles play, sophomores Paul Colin, Luca Hotze and Francisco Llanes all won two qualifying draw matches to advance to the main draw, joining Cronje, Giamichelle and fellow sophomores Yassine Dlimi and Mehdi Benchakroun.

Of the seven UCF players in the singles main draw, Benchakroun made it the farthest, getting to the quarterfinals before getting bested by Tudorica (6-3, 6-4). However, en route to that point, the sophomore defeated #112 ranked Loris Pourroy of Florida State (6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7-5)) and the tournament’s #2-seed, Florida freshman Aidan Kim (6-4, 6-1).

Click here for the full results from the ITA Southwest Regional Championship.

Next up:

M25 Harlingen - Oct. 23-29

M15 Tallahassee - Oct. 23-29

Gator Invite - Oct. 26-28

Men’s Golf competes at Big 12 Match Play Tournament

The UCF Men’s Golf team competed in its first Big 12 event last week in the conference’s fall Match Play Tournament.

The Knights ended up going winless as a team throughout the tournament, resulting in a 14th-place finish. They fell to Baylor (4-1), TCU (4-1), Iowa State (3-1-1) and West Virginia twice (3-2 and 2-1-2).

Individually, junior Nicholas Estrada and senior Egor Eroshenko led the way for the team, both going 2-2-1 in their own matches.

Next up:

Fallen Oak Collegiate - Oct. 15-17

Women’s Tennis wraps up action in South Carolina

The UCF Women’s Tennis team continued its fall pro circuit slate at the McLeod For Health Florence Open in South Carolina.

Both sophomore Stefani Webb and freshman Olivia Lincer fell in their first matches. Webb lost to Christina Rosca (4-6, 6-2, 9-11) in the first round of the qualifying draw while Lincer lost to Sophie Chang (6-0, 4-6, 4-6) in the first round of the main draw.

Next up:

W15 Jackson - Oct. 16-22

ITA Regionals - Oct. 19-23

Knights of the Week

Caroline DeLisle, Women’s Soccer

Goalkeeper is one of the most storied positions in UCF Sports. Four of the Banneret’s Top 20 Female Athletes in UCF history were goalkeepers.

Karen (Richter) Hoppa’s 30.5 shutouts stood as the program’s second-oldest career record, the mark getting set 33 years ago by a woman who would go on to become the head coach of Auburn’s Women’s Soccer team. Since she started coaching the Tigers in 1999, only Aline Reis, who went on to play for the Brazilian national team, had gotten more than 20 shutouts, finishing her career with 27.

On Sunday in Cincinnati, Ohio, Caroline DeLisle earned her 31st career shutout.

“Carol is so deserving of this record!” head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said in a press release Sunday. “To accomplish this in her career at UCF is incredible, especially since we’ve had so many amazing goalkeepers play for the program. Not only is she one of the best goalkeepers in the history of UCF women’s soccer, but she is also a special person who leads with class and selflessness.”

Hoppa sent her congratulations to DeLisle with a post on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Knights Play of the Week

Lucca Dourado scores game-winning goal against Old Dominion