ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – For the first time since 2014, the defending regular season champion UCF women’s soccer team was picked to repeat in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll on Tuesday. Senior Vera Varis was selected as the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year.
Varis and sophomore Dina Orschmann were both named to the Preseason All-Conference Team, with Orschmann being unanimously selected by the league’s coaches.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by our peers as the top team heading into the season,” UCF head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said. “Credit to our players; that’s what they earned for having such a successful season last year. It won’t be an easy task to be the preseason number one and stay on top the entire season.”
Last season the Knights went unbeaten during conference play for the first time since 2014. UCF captured the regular season title with a 7-0-2 mark and swept the league’s six major awards for the first time in program history. The 2017 American Coach of the Year, Roberts Sahaydak returns two of those major award winners for the first time during her tenure leading the Knights in Varis and Orschmann.
“Being the preseason favorite is an honor, but there are challenges that come along with it,” Roberts Sahaydak said. “Our program motto is ‘Best Is Our Standard,’ which will really come into play this year. We know we’ll have our work cut out for us, getting everyone’s best game after game.”
The Black and Gold finished the 2017 campaign with a 13-2-3 overall record, the most wins since the 2014 campaign. Returning to the United Soccer Coaches poll, UCF climbed as high as No. 6 and finished the regular season ranked eighth. The Knights posted a 16-match unbeaten streak, the longest since the 2013 campaign.
Varis, who earned her second consecutive preseason accolade, conceded just one goal in over 740 minutes last season in The American. The Vantaa, Finland, native was named the American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year as she tallied five shutouts with just one goal allowed in nine league matches. Varis allowed just four goals on the year for a 0.27 goals-against average that ranked third nationally. She became the first Knight since 2014 to earn United Soccer Coaches Association All-America accolades.
The 2017 American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, Orschmann is UCF’s top returning scorer in 2018. A native of Berlin, Germany, she tallied 20 points on six goals and eight assists. Orschmann, who saw time in Germany’s win over Nigeria in the U-20 Women’s World Cup on Aug. 6, netted four goals in league play in 2017. In addition to Varis and Orschmann, the Knights return nine members from the 2017 squad who clocked time in at least 10 matches last year, including all-rookie selection Stefanie Sanders.
UCF, who earned the No. 16 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll on Tuesday, will host Wyoming in an exhibition contest on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. and officially kick off the 2018 campaign on Aug. 19 when the Knights welcome FGCU to the UCF Soccer Complex.
DON'T MISS OUT
The UCF women's soccer team is set for its sixth season under head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and will welcome five teams from the 2017 NCAA Tournament to the UCF Soccer Complex in 2018. Click here or call (407) 823-1000 for ticket information.
Preseason Coaches’ Poll
|School||Points (First Place Votes)|
|1. UCF||76 (6)|
|2. USF||73 (3)|
|3. Memphis||68 (1)|
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Evelyne Viens, USF
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Olivia Gauthier, Memphis
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year
Vera Varis, UCF
Preseason All-Conference Team
Vera Varis, UCF
Dina Orschmann, UCF*
Sophie Gorman, Cincinnati*
Vivien Beil, UConn
Jazmin Grant, Houston
Olivia Gauthier, Memphis
Marie Levasseur, Memphis*
Elizabeth Woerner, Memphis*
Andrea Hauksdottir, USF
Evelyne Viens, USF*
Allie Thornton, SMU
* denotes unanimous selection