John Denton's Knights Insider: Women's Soccer Ready to Bounce Back

Aug. 23, 2010

="" alt="Knight Head" border="0" class="imported"> Read John Denton's Knights Insider | ="" alt="Twitter Logo" border="0" class="imported">Follow us on Twitter | ="" alt="Facebook Logo" border="0" class="imported">Get social with the Knights on Facebook

By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Season-openers are usually a mystery to all involved, and that certainly proved to be the case Sunday night for UCF soccer coach Amanda Cromwell.

Cromwell and the Knights had plenty of reason to be encouraged at halftime after UCF mostly dominated play early in the game, only to miss out on a couple of scoring opportunities.

But what happened next - two second-half goals by Florida - put a damper on a promising night and a school-record crowd of 2,141. Playing such a quality opponent in the first game of the season alerted Cromwell to the challenges that lie ahead this season.

UCF is attempting to replace leading scorer Courtney Whidden and team MVP Becca Thomas, and following the disappointing 2-0 loss to the Gators it's clear the rebuilding is a still a work in progress for the 25th-ranked Knights.

``I was glad that we started with a team that could expose some things,'' said Cromwell, who has led the Knights to eight NCAA Tournaments in 11 seasons. ``You never want to be complacent going into the season. ... We have to shore up some things in the midfield, for sure. Our forwards had been very good, but there were certain things off the attack that were lacking. Our backs played well. The goals we gave up were a mistake and poor play in the midfield. There were some bright spots, but we'll be breaking down a lot of video.''

Most shocking to Cromwell was the dropoff from half to the next in Sunday's opener. An error in the box led to Tahnai Annis' first goal - a dart into the left corner of the net. And UCF was beaten in the middle of the field when Annis scored again in the 52nd minute off two passes.

Ebbs and flows in focus and intensity tend to happen with young teams, and that certainly was the case on Sunday. With so a lot of newcomers on the roster, Cromwell was eager to see how her team would respond to a bit of adversity.

``It's funny because when we came out flat in the second half I was wondering who was going to step up and get us going,'' she said. ``We're lacking a little bit of leadership right now and you could tell that in the second half. But we need some players with seniority to step up and take ownership of it.''

Tishia Jewell, a sophomore from Satellite Beach, said that UCF's second-half dropoff was a product of the missed opportunities in the first half. Chemistry concerns are also an issue with a team that has undergone so much change from last season.

``I don't think that we had the same intensity and fire as the first half. We had a couple of chances to score in the first half and the second half we didn't create as many opportunities,'' said Jewell, who had a shot on goal go just wide in the first half. ``In the first half I felt very good about how we were playing, but we didn't put any of the chances away. I think we're still trying to figure out who works best together and who'll be the ones who step up for games. Everyone is hungry and has that chance to be a leader for us now.''

Cromwell said that despite the scoreless opener, she sees this Knights team as being one capable of putting up big numbers in terms of goals and shots. The next chance for UCF's attacking offense to be on display will be Friday night at home against San Diego State, a team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

``We have a free-flowing, attacking style and we're going to be scoring goals,'' Cromwell stressed. ``We'll have a lot of production. We need to do some things differently this week and come back out on Friday night. You'll eventually see a lot of offensive production out of this team.''


Click here to receive the Knights Insider via email

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.