Knights Grab Coaching Staff of the Year

ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF men’s soccer team snagged Coaching Staff of the Year and seven All-Conference selections from the American Athletic Conference announced Tuesday.

Cal Jennings, Louis Perez, Yoni Sorokin, and Yannik Oettl were named First Team All-Conference, while Yanis Leerman earned Second Team All-Conference and All-Rookie Team accolades. Andres Hernandez Betancur was also named to the All-Rookie Team.  

Coaching Staff 
In just his second season, Scott Calabrese and the UCF men’s soccer staff earned Coaching Staff of the Year in The American. Calabrese is assisted by associate head coach Paul Souders, assistant coach Jamie Davies, and goalkeeper coach Ryan Coulter. Both Davies and Coulter are in their first season with the Knights, while Souders is in his second.

Thus far, the coaching staff has produced one of the best seasons in program history. The Knights have earned 12 wins and counting, the most by UCF since 2011. After a successful 2017 campaign, Calabrese and company have only raised the bar grabbing four more wins than last season as they head into the postseason. 

The Knights finished the regular season on an eight-game unbeaten streak and have not lost a match since Sept. 21, a 1-0 loss to Temple. In home matches, UCF went 7-1-2 before hosting the conference tournament, and 3-0-1 in conference matches at the UCF Soccer Complex.

The Black and Gold boast one of the best offenses in all of Division I. For 11 straight weeks of play, the Knights have been ranked top 10 in the nation in almost every offensive category including total assists, total goals, total points, scoring offense, points per game, assists per game, goals per game, and have been the top team in shots per game and shots on goal per game.

UCF is also the top team in The American in all of those categories.

This season, Knights have produced three major award winners (Offensive, Midfielder, Goalkeeper of the Year), seven All-Conference selections, and eight Player of the Week awards from The American. In addition to all the awards, the Knights have been ranked five weeks out of the season, including a current ranking of No. 9 in the country, which is the second-highest ranking in program history.

First Team
In addition to being named Offensive Player of the Year, Jennings was a unanimous selection for First Team All-Conference. This is Jennings’ second straight First Team selection.

The junior has scored a conference record 19 goals in the regular season along with 42 points. The native of Roswell, Ga., has netted three hat tricks this year and has had six multi-goal matches.

Jennings has been grabbing national attention as he sits second in the country in goals per game (1.27), points per game (2.80), shots on goal per game (3.07), total goals and points. Jennings is third in the nation in game-winning goals (six), and first in Division I in shots per game (5.33). 

Perez was also a unanimous selection for First Team as well as being named Midfielder of the Year. The sophomore has netted three goals and five assists for 11 points while playing 1,300 minutes.

Perez notched the game winner in the final regular season game that gave the Knights the win over Cincinnati for a share of the regular season title and home field advantage for the conference tournament.

For the second consecutive season, Sorokin was named to The American First Team as a midfielder. The sophomore netted three goals and five assists for 11 points on 30 shots during the regular season playing just under 1,400 minutes. The Jerusalem, Israel, native started all 16 games for the Black and Gold, proving to be a reliable weapon.

Sorokin connected on the game-winning goal against Memphis leading to an eventual 2-1 victory over the Tigers for the Knights’ third-straight win.

This is Oettl's first all-conference selection, and he was also named Goalkeeper of the Year. Oettl has registered 1,485 minutes between the posts, starting in all 16 matches for the Knights. He allowed just 16 goals on the season and recorded four shutouts with 53 saves for a .768 save percentage. 

Oettl was not only a threat in goal, but also provided a pair of assists on the season. The Munich, Germany native is well-known for his powerful foot and delivered an assist to both Jennings and Walker Dawkins this season from his own 18-yard box. 

Rookie Team
Leerman and Hernandez Betancur were named to the American All-Rookie Team, while Leerman was also named to Second Team All-Conference and was a unanimous selection to the All-Rookie Team.

Since joining the American Athletic Conference, this is the fifth and sixth All-Rookie Team awards for UCF.

Both defenders quickly became regular starters for UCF, recording 13 starts each. Leerman and Hernandez Betancur were critical pieces on the backline allowing under an average of 10 shots per game.

Both rookies also recorded their first collegiate points during the season dishing out an assist each. Leerman was credited an assist to Jennings against Tulsa, while Hernandez Betancur delivered a pass to Walker Dawkins for the game-winning goal against South Florida. 

As a defensive unit, the backline allowed just one goal per game and 158 shots.

Up Next
The Knights have earned a first-round bye in The American tournament after defeating Cincinnati, 1-0 Friday evening and earning the regular season champions title. UCF will also host the tournament at the UCF Soccer Complex, Nov. 6-10.

The Knights will play the winner of the UConn/Temple matchup at 7 p.m., Nov. 8.

All tournament information can be found here.

This is the first regular season title for UCF since 2004 and first in The American.

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