Taking UCF to a top-10 ranking and the outright regular-season title, head coach Amanda Cromwell was voted the 2009 Conference USA Coach of the Year on Tuesday. The league’s coaches also named senior Becca Thomas this season’s C-USA Midfielder of the Year, and put four Knights on the All-C-USA First Team with Thomas, Courtney Whidden, Nikki Moore and Aline Reis all earning spots on the prestigious squad.
“We are very proud of our student-athletes who were honored on the C-USA all conference teams,” said Cromwell. “It reflects the consistency they brought to the field all season long and it shows the mix of veteran leadership and young talent that has made this season so successful.
“Amazingly enough, this is Courtney Whidden’s first time being picked for All-C-USA and it is very well deserved. She has scored some very important goals for us this season and throughout her career. And I can’t say enough about Becca Thomas’ domination in the midfield. She has carried us to some wins and I’m excited the coaches around the conference noticed her impact and voted her as the midfielder of the year.
“The coach of the year award is really about our whole staff and I’m honored that we were recognized. Donna Fishter and Colby Hale deserve so much recognition as their impact as coaches and leaders has been tremendous and they push me to be a better coach every day.”
Although she has been one of the most successful coaches in any sport in school history, this was the first time Cromwell, who is in her 11th campaign with the Knights, earned a coach of the year accolade by either C-USA or the Atlantic Sun (the A-Sun typically voted for the coach who led the biggest turnaround). She was the SoccerBuzz.com Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2004.
Cromwell currently holds a 156-66-15 record while at UCF and has guided the program to seven NCAA Tournaments with hopes of an eighth trip to the dance in 2009. A player on the United States National Team from 1991-98, she has led the Knights to three C-USA regular-season crowns in five years in the conference.
This year the Knights, who played the second-toughest non-conference schedule in Division I, have won nine-straight games as they enter postseason play with a 15-3-1 overall record. They are ranked as high as No. 9 in the country with a NCAA RPI of No. 8 this week.
UCF placed a league-high four players on the All-C-USA First Team, the most on the main squad since becoming members of the league in 2005, and one shy of the school record when it placed five on the All-Atlantic Sun First Team.
Thomas joined fellow seniors Whidden and Thomas as well as sophomore keeper Reis on the first team. It was Moore’s third appearance on the All-C-USA First Team, while it was the second for Thomas and first for both Whidden and Reis.
The Knights also put two players on the All-C-USA Third Team, as senior Yvonne George and freshman Bianca Joswiak earned spots. Joswiak, meanwhile, was tagged for the C-USA All-Freshman Team as was Nicolette Radovcic and Alex Brandt. It was the first time since 2003 in the A-Sun that three Knights were selected on the freshman squad.
UCF received a bye into the semifinals of the C-USA Championship and will face either UAB or UTEP Friday at 6 p.m. ET in Dallas. The finals is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. ET and will air on CBS College Sports, which will be highlighted by a halftime feature on Reis.
UCF is in great position to at least get an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, and the field of 64 will be announced on ESPNews Monday at 8 p.m.
2009 C-USA WOMEN’S SOCCER AWARDS
Offensive Player of the Year
Ashley Berra, Memphis
Defensive Player of the Year Kelsey Bakker, Memphis
Midfielder of the Year Becca Thomas, UCF
Freshman of the Year Skye Schultz, UTEP
Coach of the Year Amanda Cromwell, UCF
All-Conference First Team F: Ashley Berra, Memphis F: Tiffany Brown, Colorado College F: Tameka Sumter, UTEP F: Courtney Whidden, UCF MF: Vendula Strnadova, Memphis MF: Becca Thomas, UCF MF: Chelsea Winbush, UTEP D: Kelsey Bakker, Memphis D: Nikki Moore, UCF D: Lauren Talbot, Colorado College GK: Aline Reis, UCF
All-Conference Second Team F: Erika Duncan, Marshall F: Erin Scott, Rice F: Tiffini Turpin, UAB MF: Ericka Bear, Colorado College MF: Molly Snead, Marshall MF: Bailey Wilcox, East Carolina D: Kayla Chambers, Tulsa D: Kaitlyn Eidson, SMU D: Jessica Rathweg, Houston D: Marie Yempuku, UAB GK: Elise Kuhar-Pitters, Memphis
All-Conference Third Team F: Emily Beans, Colorado College F: Lauri Byrne, Houston F: Yvonne George, UCF MF: Jennifer Kacergis, Tulsa MF: Kristin Medeiros, SMU MF: Jo Radcliffe, UTEP MF: Shelley Wong, Rice D: Amanda Broz, East Carolina D: Bianca Joswiak, UCF D: Katelyn Ostendorf, Rice GK: Caitlin Hulyo, Colorado College
All-Freshman Team Brittney Lyman, F, Colorado College Rachel Wechsler, MF, East Carolina Sarah Vinson, MF, Marshall Avery Hallman, F, Memphis Taylor Isenhower, F, Memphis Julia Barrow, MF, Rice Mallory Baum, MF, SMU Katie Bykowski, GK, Tulsa Rachel Garcia, D, Tulsa Bianca Joswiak, D, UCF Nicolette Radovcic, F, UCF Alex Brandt, MF/F, UCF Skye Schultz, F, UTEP