Most Valuable Knights

June 18, 2008

From football's Kevin Smith in the fall to Allison Kime of the softball squad in the spring, numerous UCF student-athletes had incredible campaigns for the Knights in 2007-08. These Knights were their respective team's most valuable players during the year.

Jennifer Manis
Women's Soccer

The senior goalkeeper was nearly perfect for the Knights in 2007. She posted a 0.87 goals-against-average, went 15-4-4 and recorded 126 saves. The Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, she helped lead UCF to the second round of the NCAA Championship. Manis also excelled in the classroom, garnering National Soccer Coaches Association of America Academic All-America honors.

Dave Noel
Men's Basketball

High-scoring guard Jermaine Taylor earned most of the attention (and accolades) during the season, but Noel was the team's most valuable player in head coach Kirk Speraw's opinion. UCF's top defender, Noel was asked to guard the opponent's top perimeter player each game and did a solid job. He was rewarded following the regular season with a spot on the Conference USA All-Defensive Team. The senior was strong on the offensive end as well, averaging 13.3 points and shooting 45.5 percent from deep.

Stephanie Connelly
Women's Golf

Connelly helped lead the Knights to the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2002. The senior recorded two top-10 regular-season finishes. She was the Knights' top performer at the Conference USA Championship, tying for 23rd. As a result of her performance at the league event, she was selected to the all-conference second team in April.

Amber Long
Women's Basketball

How can a player who averaged just 1.2 points in seven minutes of action earn her team's MVP honor? Just ask head coach Joi Williams about Amber Long. Long entered her senior year with 30 career starts at UCF, but was asked to forgo playing time so the numerous freshmen on the Knights' roster could see game action. Long obliged, sacrificing to help UCF improve for the future.

Kevin Smith

Smith did everything but drive the equipment truck for the Knights in 2007. The junior earned consensus All-America honors after leading the Knights to the Conference USA title and a spot in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Miami native finished the campaign with 2,567 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns. His rushing effort was the second highest in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history, trailing only Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders. Next up for Smith: the 2008 campaign with the Detroit Lions in the National Football League.

Greg Forest
Men's Golf

Forest was one of the reasons why UCF enjoyed a successful 2007-08 campaign, highlighted by an invitation to the NCAA West Regional. The junior recorded four top-10 showings during the regular season and was named to the All-Conference USA First Team. In February, he shared co-medalist honors at the UCF Rio Pinar Invitational, finishing the three-round event at 205 (-11).

Elvira Serrot
Women's Tennis

An All-Conference USA Second Team pick, Serrot went 8-1 in the spring at the No. 2 singles spot. The junior won six-straight matches to complete the year. In doubles, she joined Jennifer Carati to go 19-6. The pair won 12-consecutive matches to close the 2008 campaign.

Krystina Sarff

Who else but Sarff would be recognized as the rowing team's top performer? The leader of UCF's varsity eight boat, Sarff and her teammates competed against top-notch competition during the season. A year ago, she garnered All-America first team honors. In 2007-08, Sarff was again recognized as one of the top rowers in the nation, earning another spot on the first team.

Dione Thomas
Track and Field/Cross Country

Thomas shined for new head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert this season. She excelled in the sprints, relays and jumps, The junior became the first performer in school history to earn Conference USA Track and Field Athlete of the Week honors after a strong performance at the Penn Relays. In early April, Thomas set a UCF record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.83 at the Pepsi Florida Relays.

Ryan Roushandel
Men's Soccer

The junior earned all-region and All-Conference USA honors after being the Knights' top offensive player in 2007. He registered eight goals and added one assists for 17 points. The Atlanta native made 17 starts and recorded three game-winning goals during the campaign. He scored at least two goals on two occasions.

Allison Kime

What did Kime do during the 2008 regular season? The senior hurler only went 28-10 and posted a 1.05 ERA. Kime was named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Week three times during the season as she recorded 319 strikeouts in regular-season play. During that time, the All-C-USA First Team selection totaled 12 shutouts and 31 complete games.

Johan Beigart
Men's Tennis

Beigart had a solid sophomore campaign for head coach Bobby Cashman's squad. He played at the top of the lineup all season and recorded three victories at No. 1 and posted a 4-0 record at the No. 3 position. A native of Sweden, Beigart posted wins over foes from nationally-ranked teams on two occasions. At the conclusion of the season, he was an All-Conference USA Second Team selection.

Shane Brown

In 2007, Shane Brown started 12 games at catcher. The versatile Brown has spent most of his time at first and third base for the Knights this year and has been the squad's most consistent player. Despite missing 10 contests due to an injury, he has paced the squad in batting average for most of the campaign.

Jenny Heppert

The middle blocker was among the Conference USA leaders in blocks per game (1.06) for the Knights. The junior's achievements in the classroom were even more impressive. A biology major, she was named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team and the ESPN The Magazine Academic District III First Team in the fall.

- Doug Richards

This story appears in the May edition of KnightVision. Produced 10 times per year, KnightVision is the official publication of UCF Athletics. Each issue includes stories about UCF teams, student-athletes and coaches. To order 10 exciting issues from August through June, call 1-888-877-4373 (ext. 121) or 336-768-3400 (ext. 121).