No. 20 Women's Soccer Opens C-USA Title Defense This Weekend

Sept. 25, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With a brutal non-conference schedule in the past, the No. 20 UCF women's soccer team enters Conference USA play this weekend with a 5-2-1 overall record. The Knights open up at UAB Friday at 8 p.m. ET, followed by a Sunday showdown at Memphis at 2 p.m. ET.

UCF remains in the top 25 for the second-straight week thanks to a 2-2-0 record vs. ranked teams so far this season. Even though it survived its out of conference campaign, the Black and Gold still has a lot of work left if it hopes to claim a second-straight C-USA regular-season title and the third in four years in the league. It will battle all 11 league programs with the regular-season finale set for Oct. 31 at Southern Miss.

A total of 11 different players have tallied at least one point for the Knights, led by junior Becca Thomas (Burlington, Wash.) who has four goals for eight points. Classmate Yvonne George (Winter Springs, Fla.) is close behind with two goals and three helpers for seven points.

Freshman Aline Reis (Campinas, Brazil) continues to boast impressive credentials in net, posting 39 saves, four shutouts and a 1.34 goals-against average.

The Knights went 7-1-1 in C-USA in 2007, marking the 11th-consecutive season they did not lose more than two matches in league play. In 2008, they were picked to finish second in the preseason coaches poll, trailing only Memphis. Both squads tied for the regular-season title last year, but UCF earned the No. 1 seed in the C-USA Championship thanks to a 2-1 overtime win over the Tigers during the season. However, Memphis returned the favor with a 2-0 victory in the tournament's title game, as they both went on to secure bids to the NCAA Tournament.

UAB was the only opponent to give UCF a C-USA loss, a 2-0 shutout in Birmingham. Like the Knights, the Blazers had a difficult non-conference schedule and lost five-straight en route to their current 2-6-0 record. Their first three matches, Clemson, Auburn and USF, were all 1-0 defeats, while they also fell to Kansas, Nebraska and Vanderbilt. UAB did collect 1-0 wins over Wright State and Samford at the UAB Nike Classic Sept. 12-14. Danya Barsalona will be a focal point for the Knights Friday, as she has taken a team-high 21 shots with three goals, two on penalty-kicks. Kate Blankenship is back for her sophomore year in goal, and has 42 saves and a 1.17 GAA.

Memphis has participated in two fewer matches than the Knights, owning a 3-2-1 mark after wins over Arkansas-Little Rock, Ole Miss and Oklahoma. The Tigers' losses came at the hands of Miami and Colorado, and it played Alabama to a 1-1 draw. Three different players, including last year's C-USA Freshman of the Year Vendula Strnadova, have scored two goals apiece, while Elise Kuhar-Pitters has played most of the minutes in net, sporting 15 saves and a 1.17 GAA.

Out of all C-USA programs, UCF has a winning record against seven of them. But the Knights are 2-2-0 all-time vs. Memphis and 2-2-1 vs. the Blazers.

With UCF playing in its fourth season in C-USA, the Knights will now have traveled to Memphis and UAB three times. The only year the Tigers and Blazers visited Orlando was in 2006.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.