The COVID-tinged spring 2021 season was clearly not up to standard for the UCF Knights Women’s Soccer team.
But things are back to some semblance of normal for the Fall of 2021, and with an eager batch of seniors, Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and the Knights have much higher expectations as they begin the new season Thursday evening, August 19th, against Texas.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Knights for 2021:
2-4-1 (all games in The American), 6th place
To put it bluntly, the Spring 2021 season was an exercise in Murphy’s Law for the Knights.
After having to deal with no fall season throwing off everyone, they got off to a good start at 2-0, but then lost four of their final five games in a conference-play-only schedule to finish with a losing record for only the third time in program history, and the first time since 2000.
In the seven games, UCF scored only nine goals, and no individual Knight tallied more than two. Defensively, UCF gave up only ten goals, but three of their four losses were by just one goal. In addition, they drew ECU at home and had one more home game postponed against SMU that could have factored into their conference fate.
Picked to finish 5th The American by the league’s coaches, the Knights are not expected to make much noise this season by the rest of the league. Much of the attention is focused 70 miles away in Tampa, where the South Florida Bulls were picked to win The American by six of the nine coaches. Memphis took the other three first-place votes.
Who’s in Charge
Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak enters year nine at the helm. Last year was her first-ever sub-.500 season, and the three-time AAC Coach of the Year fully expects this to be the last time that happens. She is just nine wins shy of 100 for her career at UCF, which would make her only the second coach in school history to win triple-digit games, along with Amanda Cromwell.
Listen to her preview the team on the Black & Gold Banneret Podcast:
Who to Watch
#1 Caroline DeLisle - Goalkeeper
The preseason AAC Co-Goalkeeper of the Year and All-AAC selection enters Year #3 between the pipes for the Knights. She has all the makings of joining the program’s pantheon of goalkeepers if she continues her trajectory of the first two seasons. She was an all-rookie pick in 2019 with 10 clean sheets, and was 4th in goals against average and 3rd in save percentage in the spring of 2021.
#7 Kristen Scott - Forward
The senior local product (Edgewater HS) was fifth in the league in shots last year despite playing just five games. She was All-Rookie as a freshman in 2018 and Second Team All-AAC with 8 goals in 2019.
#17 Dayana Martin - Forward
The Boca Raton product scored a brace in UCF’s exhibition opener against FAU a week ago. She should figure more prominently in UCF’s offensive attack this season.
Who We’ll Miss
#30 Nahla Turner
Nahla played in only one match as a Knight last year, but that does not matter. When you beat cancer, the fact that you’re on the field at all is worth it.
Who’s New That’s Good
#3 Marta Estupinan - Defender
A former Spain U17 teamer, Estupinan comes over from Ole Miss, where she started her first four matches out of junior college before an injury limited her action.
Prior to Ole Miss, she was a back-to-back JuCo All-American at Tyler JC and was the Defensive MVP of the 2019 NJCAA Tournament, en route to a national title.
Who’s On the Roster
- 7 Seniors (one fifth-year player)
- 9 Juniors
- 10 Sophomores
- 5 Freshmen
- 17 Floridians
- 8 Central Floridians
- 7 international players (England, Sweden, Germany, France, Canada, New Zealand, Spain)
- 6 Transfers
8 Non-conference games
- Home: Texas (116), LSU (61), Penn State (24), North Carolina (3), Stetson (303)
- One in-state road game at Florida (183)
8 Conference games
- Home: Memphis (38), USF (12), Tulsa (262), Temple (231)
- Away: Houston (128), SMU (228), ECU (135), Cincinnati (87)
American Athletic Conference Tournament
- October 31, November 4, November 7
- Sites TBD by seeding
Last year’s RPI in parentheses.
The Last Time...
UCF won an NCAA Tournament game: 2014. It was Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak’s second year, and the Knights reached the Sweet 16 after winning The American’s regular season title. The Knights are in the midst of their longest NCAA Tournament drought since 1992-1997.
UCF won The American: 2017. There have been multiple close calls along the way, including a PK stunner in 2016, 1-0 semifinal losses in 2015 (in OT), 2018 and 2019, and a loss on PKs in the final in 2017 at home to South Florida. Soccer is cruel.
What to Watch for
The early season. UCF’s stacked schedule means the Knights should be ranked quite high in the RPI despite what results take place, since the RPI factors non-conference schedule. So we might see UCF move up in the rankings even if they lose some early games. Bottom line is don’t panic if the Knights get off to a slow start in the win-loss record.
Who to Follow
- UCF Women’s Soccer: @UCF_WSoccer
- Coach Sahaydak: @trsahaydak
- The American Women’s Soccer: @American_WSoc