The No. 9 UCF women's soccer team played No. 3 Florida State in its home opener on Aug. 24
It is very difficult to describe the UCF women's soccer program in one sentence. With head coach Amanda Cromwell continuously putting the Knights on the national stage, one needs to use terms such as NCAA Tournaments, conference championships, top-25 rankings and All-Americans just to get a start on what this program is all about.
With 224 career victories and a .681 winning percentage at the close of the 2012 season, Cromwell currently ranks among the top-25 winningest active coaches and the top-30 all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history.
Since taking over the helm of UCF women's soccer in 1999, Cromwell has guided her team to a 203-83-26 record, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, four Atlantic Sun Tournament championships, four C-USA regular-season titles and the 2012 Conference USA tournament title.
The Knights have capped off the last 11 seasons ranked among the top squads in their region, including a No. 1 ranking in the Central Region by the NSCAA in 2012 for the first time since 2009. During the 2012 campaign, UCF was nationally ranked every week, climbing to No. 6 in the country for two weeks, which was UCF's highest standing in two decades.
In addition to her accomplishments as head coach, Cromwell also has helped her players excel individually both on and off the field. During her tenure, Knights have earned 96 all-conference honors and 38 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Region selections.
Several of Cromwell's student-athletes received high praise during their highly successful 2012 season. The team collected a league-high six player of the week distinctions, NSCAA Second Team All-American Marissa Diggs was selected as the league's Defensive Player of the Year, and Tishia Jewell made history as the first Knight to earn the prestigious Senior CLASS Award.
In 2011, Jewell earned NSCAA/Continental Tire All-America Third Team honors. Jewell, Diggs, Stacie Hubbard, Nicolette Radovcic and Aline Reis all earned NSCAA All-Central Region honors. The previous year, Jewell was voted as the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year as six Knights earned postseason C-USA honors. And Jewell joined Reis, Katie Jackson, Bianca Joswiak and Kim Newsome on All-Central Region squads.
The awards also piled on following the Knights' dominant 2009 campaign. In 2009, Becca Thomas became UCF's first midfielder since 1995 to be honored as an All-American, while she joined Nikki Moore, Courtney Whidden and Reis as all-region selections.
When C-USA released its postseason accolades, UCF placed four on the first team: Thomas, Moore, Whidden and Reis. That was highlighted by Thomas being voted as the C-USA Midfielder of the Year.
As her players were being dressed with trophies, Cromwell received a little hardware as well. The leader of the Knights was named the 2009 C-USA Coach of the Year as well as the All-Central Region Coach of the Year.
In 2008, Cromwell helped Reis develop into UCF's first overall All-American since 1995, as Reis was one of just three freshmen on either the first or second team.
Meanwhile, Courtney Baines (2004 and 2005) and Jennifer Manis (2007) both received conference defensive player of the year honors, Danielle dos Santos was the 2007 C-USA Newcomer of the Year, Jennifer Montgomery was named 2002 Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year and Michelle Anderson earned 2001 A-Sun Player of the Year recognition.
Her student-athletes are also known for their academic success, as they have collected 275 conference academic awards prior to 2012. In 2005, Baines received ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America honors and the C-USA Women's Soccer Scholar-Athlete Award. Thomas and Reis later would become the seventh and eighth different players in UCF history to earn NSCAA Women's Collegiate Scholar All-America honors, joining former Cromwell protégés Baines, Jennifer Manis, Jackie VanLooven, dos Santos and Allison Blagriff.
In 2012, the Knights closed the chapter on their tenure in the C-USA with their first tournament title to clinch an automatic bid to their 17th NCAA Tournament -- the most by a program in the state of Florida. UCF finished the season ranked among the top-25 nationally for goals-against average (.524, No. 2); shutout percentage (.625, No. 4), scoring offense (2.25, No. 18); and won-lost-tied percentage (.750, No. 24). The team set the school and Conference USA record with its 15 shutouts.
UCF enjoyed a magical run to the Elite Eight in 2011. The Knights advanced past the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1987 after getting past North Carolina thanks to a thrilling shootout. UCF defeated host Florida in the second round in Gainesville, setting up the contest with the Tar Heels. The Knights went 13-5-6 during the campaign and recorded a 6-2-3 mark in C-USA play.
Cromwell's squad faced six nationally-ranked squads during the campaign, and registered wins over No. 19 Penn State, No. 20 Florida, No. 22 San Diego State and No. 24 San Diego.
En route to another national seed in the NCAA Tournament, Cromwell guided the 2010 Knights to a 15-5-3 record, a C-USA regular-season trophy and its fourth-straight showing in the NCAA Second Round. They allowed only 22 goals in 23 matches, and up front, Jewell produced 10 goals and 12 assists while Kim Newsome also scored 10 goals for the attack.
UCF served as a No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament and had to travel to Los Angeles where it defeated Fresno State in the First Round only to fall to host UCLA which had been to seven-straight College Cups, 2-1, in the Second Round.
And the fans took notice of the Knights' dominance as well. A school-record 7,259 fans attended home games in 2010, highlighted by a single-game mark of 2,141 fans for the opener vs. Florida.
With a talented senior class, the 2009 Knights had a lot to look forward to as they would play the second toughest non-conference schedule in the country. And with victories over No. 4 Florida State and No. 10 Duke, UCF was in line for a big year. The C-USA Coach of the Year, Cromwell took her squad to a No. 8 national ranking, a 17-5-1 record and a C-USA regular season title by going 10-1-0 in league play.
The Knights were a No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament but were forced to travel to Wisconsin for the dance. Although the Black and Gold suffered a loss in chilly conditions in the Second Round, 2009 was certainly a year to remember.
Cromwell and the Knights also put together a grueling schedule for 2008, and the results did not disappoint. UCF completed the year with a 14-6-3 record, and went 5-2-1 in a non-conference slate that included four ranked teams. That, along with a 7-2-2 mark in C-USA, helped the Black and Gold secure an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament, where it topped Miami to reach at least the second round for the eighth time in school history.
UCF finished 2008 by ranking first in All-C-USA Team selections, with Becca Thomas and Nikki Moore leading the way as members of the First Team.
The 2007 season gave the Knights yet another championship ring, as the Knights claimed a share of the C-USA regular-season title and finished with a 15-4-4 record. UCF went on to earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, where it defeated Auburn and played No. 6 Florida to a 0-0 draw in the second round. The Black and Gold completed 2007 ranked No. 20 in the final RPI poll and No. 30 in the Soccer Buzz national rankings.
Individually, Manis, Hanna Wilde and Moore all earned a spot on the 2007 All-C-USA First Team, and Manis and Kate Begley were selected to the C-USA All-Academic Team.
During its sophomore campaign in C-USA in 2006, UCF posted a record of 11-6-2, including a 1-0 shutout of No. 9 Rice and a 2-1 win over No. 15 SMU. Five Knights were named to the all-conference teams as forward Roberta Pelarigo and midfielder Becca Thomas grabbed first-team honors and goalkeeper Jennifer Manis received a spot on the C-USA All-Academic Team. Both Pelarigo and Manis also were tapped for NSCAA All-Southeast Region accolades.
The Knights enjoyed tremendous success in their inaugural season in C-USA in 2005. They posted a 12-10 overall mark and an 8-1 record in conference play to earn a share of the regular season championship. After defeating Houston 3-2 in the first round of the C-USA Championship, UCF fell to eventual runner-up and NCAA Tournament participant UTEP. The 2005 season also marked a milestone in Cromwell's career with the Black and Gold as she won her 100th match as the Knights' mentor, taking a 2-1 win against Houston on Oct. 30.
During the team's final season in the Atlantic Sun, the Knights went 17-4-2 overall and were a perfect 9-0 against teams from the state of Florida, including wins over No. 14 Florida State and No. 10 Florida. They were 8-2 in league play as they picked up the A-Sun's first ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they defeated Florida, 3-2, in the first round before falling to Boston College, 2-1, in the second round.
Cromwell led UCF to a 16-5-1 record in 2003 as the team won the A-Sun Tournament crown for the third consecutive season. The Black and Gold advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where Florida topped the Knights, 3-2, in double overtime in the first round.
The success of 2003 came on the heels of a record-breaking 2002 season. That year, the Knights posted an 18-5-0 mark, eclipsing the program record for most wins previously set by Cromwell's 1999 squad. After defending both the A-Sun regular season and tournament titles, UCF returned to the NCAA College Cup for the second consecutive year - and took a 2-0 loss at the hands of Auburn in its opening match.
In 2001, the Knights finished with a 14-6 record and took top honors in the A-Sun before making a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the second time under Cromwell's leadership.
UCF compiled an 8-11-1 overall mark and landed second in the conference in 2000 thanks to a 7-2 record against A-Sun opponents.
After a 7-5 start in 1999, UCF rebounded with a 10-game unbeaten streak that included a 1-0 win over Furman in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before perennial power North Carolina halted the Knights' bid for a national crown. They finished the year with a 16-6-1 overall record and an 8-0-1 conference mark.
Cromwell Prior to UCF
A native of Annandale, Va., Cromwell led the Annandale High School team to a state championship and earned NSCAA All-America honors. The school retired her jersey after she graduated.
Cromwell continued her playing career at the University of Virginia, where she captained the squad to the 1991 NCAA Final Four. She added even more individual honors to her resume, including two All-America selections and four All-Atlantic Coast conference awards. She earned Soccer America's MVP award twice, captured three all-south region selections and was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy.
In her first year at UVA, Cromwell was selected to Soccer America's All-Freshman Team and took the team's rookie of the year award. She is currently tied for fifth on the Cavaliers' career goals list (35) and tied for eighth on the career scoring list (84 points).
Following her standout career in Charlottesville, Cromwell continued to make a name for herself. She was a member of the U.S. team that took third at the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup in Sweden and an alternate on the 1996 gold medal winning Olympic team in Athens, Ga. after coming back from a serious knee injury. She earned 55 caps while representing the Red, White and Blue at least once every year from 1991-98.
Cromwell has also lent her playing talents to the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA). She began her career with the Washington Freedom in 2001, starting 18 matches and scoring two goals. The following season, she played in 12 games as a member of the Atlanta Beat, then moved on to the San Jose CyberRays in 2003.
Representing UCF Around the Globe
During the summer, Cromwell acts as the director of the Central Florida Soccer Academy, which is held on the campus of UCF. She continues to serve as an ambassador for the game as a member of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors.
Before the 2007 season, Cromwell worked on the coaching staff for the U-14 Girls' National Development ID Camp, which took place in California. And during 2008, she served as an assistant coach for the United States U-20 Women's National Team, which claimed its second FIFA World Cup trophy since 2002.
When 2009 began, the leader of the Knights was back in the U.S. program, joining the Women's National Team in January as an assistant coach as it prepared for the Algarve Cup in Portugal.
Cromwell would later be appointed to the NCAA Men's and Women's Soccer Rules Committee in 2010, and will serve a four-year term. In 2002-06, she earned a spot on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports as part of President George W. Bush's Healthier U.S. Initiative. The council is charged with promoting fitness and athletic activities to Americans of all ages.
She was also selected for the Athletes in Action Women's Advisory Board, a committee whose goal it is to identify and equip potential leaders in women's sports.
Cromwell holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Virginia. She resides in Winter Park.