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CRUNCH TIME: Soccer Teams Start Critical Stretch Runs

Volleyball lands in RPI Top 30

UCF Men’s Soccer is a legit national contender now.
Derek Warden

As both UCF Knights Soccer teams and the Volleyball team enter the thick of conference play, let’s catch you up on where they stand and their paths forward.

Men’s Soccer is a legit national title contender

Record: 7-1-2, 1-0-1 in The American (T-2nd)

Ranking: #9 in United Soccer Coaches, #3 in Top Drawer Soccer

Say it out loud because it’s true: UCF Men’s Soccer is a legit national championship contender.

The Knights took #4 SMU to the wall over the weekend in Dallas, posting a 3-3 2OT draw with all six goals coming in the second half. Granted, UCF led 3-1, but make no mistake about the fact that the Knights’ performance solidified their place among the nation’s best teams.

The draw preserves a 9-game unbeaten streak. The Men’s Soccer RPI is not out yet, but expect UCF to be in the top 20, perhaps top 10 when that drops.

Also, Cal Jennings’ goal on Sunday night was his 10th of the season, tying him with Thibault Jacquel of Campbell for 5th in the nation.

As a team the Knights are 8th in the nation in scoring offense and 6th in shots per game. They have mostly games against the bottom half of The American remaining, aside from a Senior Knight home tilt with Memphis, who is first in the league at the moment.

Games Left: 6

  • 10/12 vs. Tulsa (8th place in The American)
  • 10/20 at UConn (7th)
  • 10/26 at South Florida (4th)
  • 10/29 vs. Stetson (1st in A-Sun)
  • 11/1 vs. Memphis (1st)
  • 11/5 at Cincinnati (6th)

Women’s Soccer fights back into Top 25

Record: 8-2-2, 3-1 in The American (T-2nd)

Ranking: #23 in United Soccer Coaches, Considered in Top Drawer Soccer

RPI: 67th

The Women’s Soccer team has fought into the United Soccer Coaches’ Poll, but finds itself on the bubble in the latest RPI. The key was a 2-1 victory over #22 SMU in Dallas, thanks in part to Zandy Soree’s go-ahead penalty kick in the 54th minute:

The Knights aren’t blowing anyone away in any statistical department, ranking no higher than 30th in any single team category. But with the emergence of Soree and Kristen Scott, who are tied for the tea lead with seven goals each, as well as Caroline DeLisle (0.64 GAA) in goal, the Knights have won eight of nine with just five games left in the regular season.

The RPI may take a hit with some less-than-stellar competition left to go, but should UCF hold serve, that may set up a huge Senior Knight against South Florida, who has proven to be the Knights’ bugaboo the last couple of years. Should Memphis falter down the stretch, the War on I-4 could once again decide home field for the American Championship in November.

Games Left: 5

  • 10/17 vs. Temple (T-8th in The American, RPI #218)
  • 10/20 vs. UConn (T-8th, #157)
  • 10/24 at ECU (T-4th, #180)
  • 10/27 at Cincinnati (T-4th, #167)
  • 10/31 vs. South Florida (T-2nd, #20)

Volleyball still holding serve at RPI #28

Record: 10-6, 3-1 in The American (2nd in East Division)

Ranking: Unranked

RPI: 28th

At this moment in time, Volleyball has the widest margin for error. It would have been wider if not for UCF getting swept at Cincinnati last Friday, thanks largely to the efforts of future Olympian Jordan Thompson.

At least McKenna Melville had a sense of humor about it:

Still, UCF rebounded in a big way with a road sweep of ECU two days later. The Knights have a split weekend upcoming, with a match at South Florida Friday before returning home for Memphis on Sunday.

Key for the Knights has been their blocking game, which is 8th in the nation in blocks per set and 6th in total blocks.

In terms of the season at large, Head Coach Todd Dagenais’ gambit of scheduling the toughest possible non-conference schedule has worked. Even though the Knights have lost twice the number of matches that they dropped all of last regular season, they retain a very strong RPI of 28, which will be critical come November.

They have six road and six home matches left on the slate, including one more go at the Bearcats as well as matches with Houston and Tulane (the top two teams in the West) in The Venue.

Matches Left: 12