From Pele to Neymar and Ronaldinho, Brazilians are synonymous with scoring bicycle-kick goals. The tradition of scoring off of what may be the most difficult move in soccer has been carried on by players from this nation for decades.
UCF junior forward Carol Rodrigues scored her own bicycle-kick goal against Tulsa on Oct. 11 and cited Ronaldinho as the motivation for her attention-grabbing, game-winning goal.
“Since I was a child I have been watching him play, so that was my inspiration,” Rodrigues said.
For her goal, Rodrigues has received a great deal of attention from ESPN, Fox Sports and even professional soccer players such as Mia Hamm and Christen Press. Her goal was the No. 2 top play of the day that Sunday and the No. 6 play of the entire weekend on ESPN’s SportsCenter, beating out plays from the NFL and MLB playoffs.
“Anytime we can get national publicity it is a great thing for our program,” UCF women’s soccer head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said. “To have Carol scoring goals that the public love to see, that’s great to kind of put us on the map for something like that.”
Born in Juazeiro, Brazil, Rodrigues played for the Brazilian National team in 2012 and 2014 for the Women’s U20 World Cup team. She made her international debut in 2012 in a World Cup match against Japan.
Rodrigues appeared in six matches for her country and scored one goal. The goal was the eventual game-winner over Germany in the 2014 U20 Women’s World Cup.
“That was amazing. I cannot even put that into words,” Rodrigues said. “When I scored that goal, it was kind of like all the work that I did before was working and it was a dream coming true.”
Rodrigues played her first two years of college soccer at Monroe College in New York. She made an impact and helped her team capture the program’s first NCJAA Division I National Championship when she scored the game-winning goal in double overtime.
After the 2014 season, Rodrigues transferred to UCF. She is shining in her first season with the Knights. She has played in all 16 games in and leads the team with 10 goals and 24 points.
With her outstanding offensive production, including four game-winning goals, she has been recognized with the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week award twice this season.
“The style of play, it is very different from Brazil to America. I had to lose some weight, I had to adapt my game the way that I played and the speed of play was very different,” Rodrigues said. “I had to challenge myself to be able to play at the high level in America.”
As a forward it is her job to score goals but above all else, Rodrigues puts her team’s success as the No. 1 priority and often shifts the attention from herself. She instead talks about how the team helped her to that position and how it is important that her team is in the lead.
“Although she is the one scoring the goals, she is a very selfless teammate on and off the field,” Sahaydak said. “I love coaching her so much because she is very respectful, she is very coachable and she looks at you when you speak to her and gives you that feedback.”
Rodrigues is a business major at UCF but has serious aspirations to play professionally after she graduates.
With acrobatic goals and the consistency she has shown, she may have a great chance to make those aspirations a reality.
Matthew Saunders is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.