#41 UCF Men's Soccer 2014 Preview

UCF Knights

Overall Rank: #41
#4 American
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UCF Team Page


UCF only lost one conference game last season, but that was not enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament. The Knights lost their conference opener to Louisville 3-0 and then won or tied every American Athletic Conference contest after that. Unfortunately, they really needed to put away teams like SMU and Temple and get a win instead of a tie.

2013 Record: 8-5-5, 4-1-3
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Bryan Cunningham

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Romario Williams, Junior, F/M, 10
Assists: Fernando Laverde, Sophomore, M, 4; Matthew Gaskins, Senior, D/M, 4
Shots: Romario Williams, Junior, F/M, 56
Saves: Sebastian Evers, Senior, GK, 45

Other Key Returnees: M Mason Miller, M Dener Dos Santos, M Leon Carby, D Leonardo Ayala, D Anton Sealey, D Javier Clavijo

Key Losses: D/M Steven Lamberta, M Omar Vallejo

Nine starters are back, but none is more important than striker Romario Williams. The 5-11 forward had a breakout season, scoring 10 goals and totaling 22 points on the year. He is a clinical finisher and can carry this team. A solid defense, led by keeper Sebastian Evers will keep UCF in most games. Defensive midfielder Steven Lamberta is a significant loss, but defenders Leonardo Ayala and Anton Sealey are experienced seniors and sophomore Javier Clavijo played well as a freshman. Getting a shot off against this defense will not be easy and getting it past Evers will be even more difficult.

Often the UCF offense is Williams and nobody else. Williams did score 10 of the team’s 22 goals. And it may be even worse this time around without midfielder Omar Vallejo. Vallejo was the second leading goal scorer with five. Coach Cunningham will need to find another goal scoring threat on the roster or the opposition can simply, or at least relatively simply, stop Williams and stop the Knights. Midfielder Fernando Laverde could be that guy. After scoring three goals and totaling four assists as a freshman, Laverde will certainly be a playmaker for the Knights, but it remains to be seen if he can be a goal scorer too. Sophomore forward Alex Marotta is a player to watch even though his playing time was limited in 2013.

Final Projection:
With nine starters back and an AAC that no longer includes Louisville, UCF will again be a serious competitor for a conference title. Getting Connecticut and South Florida at home, on back-to-back games in mid-October, is huge. Those two contests could decide who wins the American Athletic Conference. Performing better in non-conference play would be nice, but the schedule is pretty tough. They start the season with a trip to the Pacific Northwest to face Portland and Oregon State and also have road trips to Akron and Indiana.

Projected Postseason: None

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 1.22 (115th in nation, 4th in conference)
Goals-Against Average: 0.98 (55, 5)
Shutout Percentage: 0.33 (64, 5)
Save Percentage: 0.75 (111, 5)


See All College Sports Madness Top 44 Men's Soccer Previews