Women’s soccer deserves support and recognition from Knights fans
Published: Monday, August 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 13, 2012 13:08
If you’re the average student, you probably have never seen UCF’s best team play.
You probably didn’t know that a UCF team made it to the quarterfinals of its respective postseason tournament, making it past both the University of Florida and North Carolina on the way.
Oh, and you probably didn’t know that a UCF alumna is considered one of the best all-time athletes in her sport.
It’s time to give the women’s soccer team some love.
And what better time for the student body to get behind its most successful athletic program than now, as the team enters the season ranked 12th in the nation?
There is no better time.
Women’s soccer at UCF has been respected nationally ever since two-time Women’s World Cup champion Michelle Akers’ playing days as a Golden Knight.
Akers was a four-time NCAA All-American and is the program’s all-time leading scorer. She went on to help Team USA win the Women’s World Cup in both 1991 and 1999 and was an integral part of the 1996 U.S. gold-medal Olympic squad.
Oh, and she is in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
The program’s history isn’t just Akers, though. The Knights have made it to the NCAA tournament 16 times in program history, including two trips to the semifinals in the 1980s.
I know what you’re thinking. OK, so the program has a nice history, but are they any good now?
Remember, this team made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament last year, going through Gainesville and Chapel Hill in the process.
On top of that, head coach Amanda Cromwell’s squad has made an NCAA tournament appearance in each of the past five seasons.
That’s tougher than it seems.
Cromwell has built a strong program — one that’s expected to be just as successful in 2012.
Don’t even think about writing this team off thinking that women’s soccer is boring.
This squad deserves more credit than that.
Just ask senior forward Tishia Jewell, who earned an All-America Third Team selection last year as a junior.
Or you can speak with junior defender Marissa Diggs, who was recently voted the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in C-USA.
Cromwell allows her squad to play an entertaining style of soccer. But don’t think you’ll show up to see blowout after blowout, this team plays some of the country’s best.
Five of the Knights’ nonconference opponents reached the NCAA tournament last year. That’s not a cupcake schedule by any means.
The team travels to USF for its first game of the season, only to host the fourth-ranked Florida State Seminoles for its first home match a week later.
This is the perfect opportunity to jump on the women’s soccer bandwagon.
All I’m saying is three months down the road when the team is fighting for a bid to the NCAA semifinals, you’ll wish you supported this team from the start.
Here’s a novel idea — break out the E-Z UP Tents, get a tailgate going out at Memory Mall and show up to the game in time to support the team on Aug. 24.
Fill out the UCF Soccer and Track Complex to max capacity and show the visiting FSU soccer team what Zombie Nation is supposed to look like, because these girls deserve it.
They have built a nationally recognized program here at UCF, and it’s tough for them to get recognized in their own house.
I say it’s time to put a stop to that.
The UCF women’s soccer program has been a quiet powerhouse for decades. But could this be the year that students recognize the gem of a program they have overlooked for so long?
It has all of the ingredients: tradition, talent and competition. Now all it needs is some support.