Know Your Knight: UCF Women’s Football GK Caroline DeLisle


Mike DeLisle said his friend would probably kill him if he told this story, but that’s what came to his mind.

Delisle was throwing the soccer ball with her friend Chase and younger sister Caroline, who was in 8th grade at this point. As he relates, on a particular pitch, eighth-grade Caroline came up and caught the ball over the head of college freshman Chase.

“She totally foamed it,” Delisle said.

Years later, Caroline DeLisle is now embarking on a different kind of ball

The junior goalkeeper redshirt for the UCF Knights women’s football team is the latest in a long legacy of successful goalkeepers. With an American Athletic Conference tournament tilt on the road against Memphis on Sunday, DeLisle will again defend the net to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.

However, before all this, she was just having fun playing sports with her older brother.

Despite a five-year age gap, Mike and Caroline DeLisle’s mutual love for sports and track and field brought them closer together.

“We had a bonus room where half of the things were broken, soccer balls and lacrosse balls and everything, but that’s what we did,” said Caroline DeLisle. “My parents would always tell me, ‘Just get outside and play.’ So we could entertain ourselves for hours.

Although she mentioned the goalkeeper of the U.S. National Women’s Football Team Hope Solo, DeLisle said her brother was always the one she pursued in terms of athletic idols.

“It sounds a bit cliché, but my older brother was who I wanted to be,” DeLisle said. “He played a ton of sports and he was just, I mean, so cool. He’s five years older than me, so he was so cool to me.

Mike DeLisle, who played club lacrosse at Florida State and currently works for Young Life, a Christian ministry, said that looking back he had somehow recognized the impact he was having on his sister. younger, without knowing the extent of this impact. would be. For him, it was just something fun he could do with his little sister.

“I feel like every time someone looks up to you, you make a difference in their life, that’s a really special thing,” DeLisle said. “But when someone can run with it and be as successful as she has been and in a way that she’s an amazing person.”

Around the same time she was a freshman at Mossing, Caroline DeLisle was also starting to commit to the position she currently holds today as a goaltender. While still playing away volleyball and quarterback in flag football when she was starting high school, she said that by the end of her sophomore year, she knew the goalie in football was would take “the farthest”.

“I really rode the multisport athlete for as long as I could,” said DeLisle. “I liked it. I wish I could have continued playing through high school, but I think I was starting to fall in love with the goalie position.

Plus, it didn’t hurt that she was in a position that required her to do diving games.

“I think it sounds silly, but it’s true,” DeLisle said. “I’ve always liked the idea of ​​diving and flying and pretty much doing things people don’t think I could.”

The move turned out to be a good one as it would eventually catch the attention of UCF Women’s Soccer head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and goalkeeper coach Chris Cummings.

After clicking with both coaches and considering the campus’s proximity to her hometown of Tampa, which allowed her family to see her play more often, DeLisle chose UCF and arrived on campus for her real freshman year. in 2018.

While wearing a red shirt the 2018 season, she learned from one of her predecessors in the pantheon of UCF’s great goalkeepers of all time, Vera Varis, then a senior. DeLisle said she had never seen the kind of intensity and intentionality Varis displayed in her training.

“I think it was super cool to see like ‘Oh, she comes every day and focuses on something specific to improve herself, and it was like’ This is what I want my workouts to be like. “” said DeLisle.

While DeLisle described her technique as a freshman as ‘we always get there’ and she ‘flew everywhere’ and didn’t know what she was doing, Varis, who now plays soccer professionally in Sweden, had a lot of higher opinion of freshman DeLisle.

“To me Caroline was already a full goalie in first year,” said Varis. “She had a good cast, was good in the air and on stoppage of fire. What I liked the most was the positive energy she brought to the goalie training sessions and her willingness to learn!

Watch highlights from DeLisle’s 10-save performance against the 2019 USF above.

DeLisle took over as Varis in 2019 and began to establish her own place in the female legacy of goalkeepers at UCF. Heading into Sunday’s game against Memphis, DeLisle totaled 155 career saves, already placing her on the list of the top 10 career saves of all time.

Additionally, according to Sahaydak on the Black and Gold Banneret podcast in August, DeLisle still has three years of eligibility (counting this current season, she just played) thanks to her red shirt and the extra COVID year. If she played those seasons, it would only be a matter of time before DeLisle overtook Varis, who left UCF with 177 career saves.

“In my brain, I’m still the 18-year-old little boy who came when Vera was a senior,” DeLisle said. “I don’t think it will ever resonate in my brain that I could be on top of her in things.”

As DeLisle’s growth as an athlete led her to the UCF women’s football record book, the young woman who said she didn’t think she had the right to tell people what to do grew up in his leadership capacities.

“I think there’s a confidence and a confidence that maybe wasn’t there, or was there, but not at the level it is now,” said Mike DeLisle.

There are two aspects to DeLisle as a leader, the first revolving around example, which Sahaydak pointed out after this season’s game with South Florida.

“She sets an example, she comes in force when she needs it, and we are lucky to have her,” Sahaydak said. “She’s just a great leader and a huge inspiration to all of her teammates.”

The other part was what DeLisle described as interpersonal. She said she had the phrase “No one should feel alone” written on her schedule, pasted on her wall.

“I think it’s something that I took in my leadership where it’s like, I want everyone on the team to feel seen and known and I think that will translate into football and shoot. the best of them for football, ”DeLisle said.

It was this part of DeLisle’s growth in his day that the UCF his brother is most proud of.

“Sometimes it seems like it takes a certain level of narcissism and self-centeredness to get the best out of yourself and she isn’t that,” said Mike DeLisle. “She is very selfless and really likes the people around her.”

DeLisle said a big part of being a goalie is figuring out your mantra, which can be different depending on the person. College football doesn’t give her time to ‘fall in a hole for a few minutes and then get out’, so she found a mantra that has helped her keep her head in the game, no matter what. come.

“I always tell myself it’s a 0-0 game and I just focus on what I can do,” DeLisle said. “So that’s really where I found I do best because if we lead 3-0 or lose 3-0 I can’t begin to think about what that means for the conference or what that it means for something else. I just need to stay there for 90 minutes which kind of helps me get into the zone and stay where I need to be.

She said every goalkeeper feels it, the pressure their actions and play will be the determining factor in whether their team wins or loses. As the team heads to Memphis for the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament in a season where the UCF offense has scored 77 fewer goals than in 2019, the defense of the net DeLisle could very well prove to be pivotal, because it’s all been season, to the Knights’ ultimate playoff fate.

However, DeLisle has said that facing such pressure has been a defining thing for her and has helped her find the confidence to take the position she loves and be the last line of defense.

“I like to be athletic and do crazy stuff,” DeLisle said. “That was what the goalkeeper was and what it presented to me.”

Watch Caroline DeLisle’s full interview with Eric Lopez and Bryson Turner here:

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