A Look Back at UCF's Top Moments from 2006-07

May 29, 2007

by Doug Richards

There is little doubt that the 2007-08 athletics campaign will be memorable for UCF fans. Not only will UCF open new on-campus basketball and football facilities in the same year, but new head coaches will make their debut and new merchandise will be available for purchase. Before the new era of Knights athletics begins, a look back at this past year is warranted. The 2006-07 campaign featured several historic moments and was filled with dozens of team and individual highlights and record-breaking performances. Here is a look at UCF's top moments from last year:

Solid Season on the Water
Head coach Leeanne Crain's rowing program had an impressive campaign in 2007. The Knights' varsity eight boat was ranked as high as No. 9 nationally, the best ranking in school history. UCF started the season with nine-consecutive victories. In May, the varsity eight earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA Championships for the first time. UCF's boat was one of four at-large selections in the 16-team field.

A Bright Idea
On Aug. 8, UCF's on-campus football stadium got its name. Bright House Networks Stadium will open in September when the Knights host Texas. The Aug. 8 announcement that the cable provider had acquired the naming rights for the stadium was a victory for both parties. Bright House illustrated its commitment to the community as well as the university and UCF gained a partner as it continued construction on the 45,000-seat stadium.

Memorable Night at the UCF Arena
The crowd was tremendous when the Knights hosted Houston for a key Conference USA men's basketball game on Feb. 28. The contest was played in front of 4,090 fans, the third-largest crowd in program history. UCF's fans got what they wanted as the Knights secured second place in the league standings with a 75-72 overtime victory. Mike O'Donnell's trey with 28 seconds to play gave the Knights the lead for good. The Cougars had a chance to send the contest into a second extra session, but Robert McKiver's off-balance 3-point attempt as time expired did not fall.

The Knights Head Home
In celebration of several key events scheduled for next year, including the opening of Bright House Networks Stadium and the Convocation Center, UCF announced "The Knights Are Coming Home" campaign in April. The campaign included new logos and fonts that created a consistent and distinct look for UCF's varsity athletics program. The school also announced that its teams will again be referred to as the "Knights," utilizing the original nickname chosen by the student body and faculty in 1970.

Sweat Handles the Gators
The UCF baseball team had lost six of seven games entering its April 10 contest at No. 17 Florida. Kyle Sweat made sure that the Knights returned to their winning ways. The sophomore pitched eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball and was backed up by 14 hits from his teammates as UCF recorded a 6-2 upset of the Gators. Sweat struck out three and retired the final 10 batters he faced. The victory gave the Knights their first win over Florida since 1999.

Williams Takes Over
In front of a large crowd at a press conference at the UCF Arena, Joi Williams was introduced as UCF's new women's basketball head coach on March 29. Williams came to UCF after four seasons as the head coach at Murray State, where she guided the Racers to a 21-10 mark and a WNIT appearance in 2006-07. Williams is no stranger to the Sunshine State, having spent 12 seasons as an assistant coach at Florida. The Knights' new mentor will have a tremendous recruiting tool as the program will make its debut in the 10,000-seat Convocation Center this fall.

The National Champs
In January, UCF claimed its second cheerleading national title at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The Knights also took home the trophy in 2003. Head coach Linda Gooch's squad entered the competition ranked fifth in the south region, but performed well at the event, finishing ahead of Alabama in second place and two-time defending champion Kentucky in third place.

The Knights Extend Their Season
In May, the UCF men's golf team had its season extended when the Knights earned an at-large bid to the NCAA East Regional. The selection marked the third time in the last four years that UCF participated in the postseason. UCF finished 13th in the 27-team field. Freshman Nuno Henriques tied for 28th with a score of 221 (+5) and was the highest Knight finisher.

Big Weekend for Pelarigo
Roberta Pelarigo had quite a weekend when the UCF women's soccer team opened Conference USA play with road victories over No. 9 Rice and Houston. The senior forward was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Player of the Week after scoring three goals in the wins. Pelarigo tallied the game-winning goal as the Knights topped Rice, 1-0.

More K's for Kime
On April 4, Allison Kime entered the UCF softball record books in impressive fashion. The junior set UCF's career strikeout record by fanning seven Stetson batters in the Knights' 1-0 victory in DeLand. Not only did Kime break the strikeout record, she hurled her third career no-hitter in the process. Kime has 488 strikeouts in only two years with the Knights. Following the regular season, she garnered Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team honors.

Hitting the Books
UCF student-athletes proved in April that they are not only excelling in competition, but also in the classroom. A total of 190 Knights earned recognition on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll during the 2006-07 academic year. Student-athletes named to the honor roll must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. UCF placed the highest number of student-athletes on the honor roll among the programs in the 12-team league.