June 9, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The 2007-08 athletics year at UCF ended on Saturday when the rowing squad's lightweight 8+ boat rowed to a first-place finish in the Petite Final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships in Camden, N.J. Like most years, the 2007-08 athletics campaign at UCF featured dozens of team and individual highlights. The year included trips to the postseason, Conference USA titles and national honors.
What made the campaign so unique were the new traditions that developed. From tailgating at Bright House Networks Stadium to the Knightmare section at the new UCF Arena, the year was filled with firsts. Picking the best moments from a year filled with historic occasions was not easy, but the top highlights at UCF from 2007-08 are below:
The Knights Come Home - Football
UCF's inaugural game at Bright House Networks Stadium was filled with memorable moments. Not only were the Knights hosting national power Texas, but the program was playing on campus for the first time. New traditions were born as fans tailgated all day on campus and then cheered on the Knights inside the stadium. Although Texas held on for a 35-32 win, Sept. 15, 2007, will be a day that UCF fans always remember.
Beating the Best- Rowing
UCF's lightweight 8+ shined throughout the 2008 spring campaign. Under the director of assistant coach Kris Muhl, the Knights spent ample time in the national rankings as they faced some of the country's top squads. In early May, UCF traveled to Boston and took down No. 3 Radcliffe and No. 10 MIT on the Charles River. The Knights completed the course in 6:46.6, one second ahead of Radcliffe.
Senior Night Celebration - Women's Soccer
On Nov. 2, the Knights not only acknowledged senior night at the UCF Soccer Complex, the team also celebrated its second Conference USA regular-season title in three years by posting a 2-0 win over Southern Miss. UCF did not allow Southern Miss to record a shot in the second half and completed the victory with a 27-3 edge for the match.
Knights Open New Arena In Style - Men's Basketball
In September, the UCF football squad opened Bright House Networks Stadium against one of the nation's top programs in Texas. Head coach Kirk Speraw's squad also hosted a nationally-recognized program in its first game at its new facility. On Nov. 11, the Knights held on for a 63-60 win over Nevada in the inaugural contest at the new UCF Arena. The Wolf Pack entered the year with four-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament and were receiving votes in both national polls when facing UCF.
Setting the Tone - Football
Kevin Smith set the tone for UCF's historic campaign in 2007. On the squad's first play from scrimmage of the season, he ran for a then school-record 80-yard touchdown to help the Knights to a 25-23 victory at NC State on Sept. 1. Smith finished the contest with 217 yards and two scores as UCF defeated an Atlantic Coast Conference program for the first time.
Congrats Coach - Women's Tennis
The Knights made their 2008 home debut on Feb. 3 against Florida Gulf Coast. UCF eased to a 7-0 victory over the Eagles, handing new head coach Stephanie Nickitas her first career victory. The Knights recorded 12 wins during the year as they advanced to the Conference USA Championship quarterfinals.
The Comeback Kids - Baseball
After No. 5 Missouri scored four runs in the seventh (and final) inning at UCF on Feb. 25, it appeared that the Tigers were on their way to a victory. The Knights had other ideas. UCF scored five runs in the final inning to record a 10-9 win over the Tigers. Josh Siebenaler started things off for the Knights in the bottom half of the seventh with a single. Later in the inning, Ryan Richardson gave the hosts the win with a double to left center, scoring pinch-runner Nick Choto.
Lane Loves the Drama - Softball
Tiffany Lane belted a two-run home run in the sixth inning on May 10 to lead the Knights to a 4-2 win over host Houston in the Conference USA Championship title game. With the victory, UCF earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. After winning the C-USA crown, the Knights made their second appearance in the NCAA Championship, heading north for the Gainesville Regional.
No More Road Woes - Women's Basketball
On Jan. 20, the Knights snapped a year-long Conference USA road losing streak with an impressive 68-49 victory at Rice. Jelisa Caldwell led UCF with 20 points off of the bench. The 19-point margin of victory marked UCF's largest win margin versus a league opponent since joining C-USA in 2005.
Wagner Gets No Love From Houck, Hudson - Baseball
March 17 was a night to remember for UCF. Mitch Houck and Austin Hudson combined for a no-hitter in the Knights' 6-0 victory over Wagner. The contest marked the first combined no-hitter in program history, and just the second overall. Houck racked up a career-best 13 strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work. Hudson came on in the eighth to fan five more to give the Knights 18 total strikeouts, tying the school single-game record.
The Champions - Football
UCF capped off its inaugural campaign at Bright House Networks Stadium in fine fashion, easing past Tulsa, 44-25, on Dec. 1 to claim the Conference USA Championship. Kevin Smith led the Knights with 284 rushing yards and four touchdowns. During the contest, he moved into second place behind Barry Sanders on the NCAA's single-season rushing list. With the victory over the Golden Hurricane, UCF won a conference title for the first time in program history and secured a berth in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Triple Trouble - Men's Basketball
UCF fans picked the right time to establish a school attendance record. On Jan. 12, UCF claimed its inaugural Conference USA game at the new UCF Arena with a thrilling 97-91 triple-overtime victory over Tulsa in front of 7,097 fans. Jermaine Taylor totaled seven of his 28 points in the final extra session, including a pair of 3-pointers, to lift the Knights to the win.
Success Out West - Men's Soccer
At the start of the 2007 campaign, the Knights headed to New Mexico for a four-team tournament. UCF posted a pair of victories at the event, defeating Cincinnati and Loyola Marymount to claim the tournament title. UCF secured the championship with a 1-0 victory over Loyola Marymount. Four Knights were named to the all-tournament team.
Indoor Excellence - Track and Field
In March, Lizzie Harris became the first Knight to participate in the NCAA Indoor Championships. The freshman jumper excelled at the championships in Fayetteville, Ark., earning the first indoor All-America honor in school history. Harris tied for ninth at the national meet with a leap of 5.10.75, which matched her personal best.
What a Weekend - UCF Hall of Fame Weekend
On April 13, the baseball team capped off a busy three days at UCF with a 10-4 victory over Memphis. The contest with the Tigers was the final event of the inaugural UCF Hall of Fame Weekend. The centerpiece of the weekend was the spring football game, which was held inside Bright House Networks Stadium. The weekend also included the hall of fame dinner at the stadium, and tennis and rowing home events.
Forest and Stern Equal a Victory for the Knights - Men's Golf
At the UCF Rio Pinar Invitational in February, Greg Forest and Mike Stern played nearly identical tournaments for the Knights. The teammates shared medalist honors at 205 (-11) to lead UCF to its first tournament title since 2005. During the second round of the event, the two Knights both registered eight-under 64s. The 64s tied for the lowest single-round output in UCF history.
Joining the Ranks - Men's Tennis
Head coach Bobby Cashman's Knights faced several nationally-ranked squads during the campaign. By defeating No. 51 Tennessee Tech on March 7 in Orlando, the Knights joined the ranks themselves. UCF posted a 5-2 victory over the Golden Eagles and was rewarded with a spot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings the following week.
Taking Down the Tigers - Women's Soccer
Behind a pair of goals from Becca Thomas, the Knights recorded a 3-1 win over Auburn on Nov. 16 in the first round of the NCAA Championship. UCF's three goals tied a school record for the most tallies in an NCAA Championship contest. Jennifer Manis helped UCF take down the Tigers, recording nine saves as the Knights advanced to the second round to face host Florida.
Mr. 2,000 - Football
During the 2007 campaign, Kevin Smith recorded dozens of spectacular runs. His 7-yard scamper in the second quarter against UTEP in Orlando on Nov. 25 was far from amazing, but it was historic. The run helped Smith become the first rusher in state of Florida history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark in a season.
The Selection - Women's Golf
UCF played one of the hardest schedules in collegiate golf in 2007-08. The Knights were rewarded for their efforts in late April, as the team was selected to compete in the NCAA East Regional. The squad made their first appearance in regional play since 2002. Head coach Emilee Klein's team competed in Athens, Ga.
Welcome Aboard - Volleyball
In January, Todd Dagenais was selected as the ninth head coach in program history. He came to Orlando after spending three campaigns as the assistant head coach at Southern Cal, where he helped guide the Trojans to the 2007 NCAA Championship semifinals. Dagenais wasted little time working with his new squad as he guided the Knights to a successful spring campaign.
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