UCF Men's Soccer Faces First Preseason Test on Saturday Night

Aug. 17, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - After an extensive amount of tactical lessons and conditioning sessions during its first week of preseason camp, the UCF men's soccer team looks to apply that experience when the Knights play host to St. Leo in an exhibition match on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the UCF Soccer Complex.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Bryan Cunningham, the UCF squad started camp on Monday with three practice sessions each day through Wednesday. The morning session focused primarily on conditioning, while the afternoon and evening concentrated competitive small group scrimmages followed by work on tactical skills.

"We've focused on keeping our defensive shape and learning how to move the ball as a team," said senior defender Philip Michael Hall (Clermont, Fla./Eastridge HS). "The coaches have really emphasized defense, keeping the ball out of our net and transitioning that into the offense."

Hall is among the 11 players returning from the 2006 squad that finished with a 6-9-2 overall mark and earned the No. 6 seed in the Conference USA Championship. Of those returning players, 10 played in at least 75-percent of the matches a year ago. Also on the list are junior midfielder Ryan Roushandel (Atlanta, Ga./Marist School), who collected the second highest point total in 2006, and senior forward James Georgeff (New Castle, Australia), who tied for fourth overall in points.

The veterans have already played an important part in the development of the team, particularly when relating to the 13 new additions. "The returning players took on a leadership role from the beginning of camp," said Cunningham, who was promoted to head coach in February after serving as an assistant during the previous two seasons. "Throughout the week, they have continued to help the newcomers adjust."

Training camp has been an introduction of sorts for all of the players and coaching staff, which also includes assistant coaches Paul Nagy and Steve Mellor, but Cunningham feels that the squad has accomplished its early goals.

"We got what we wanted out of this week," he said. "We were able to get everyone indoctrinated into the system. That not only includes our game plan and how we train, but also how to act and every facet of what it means to be a member of the UCF men's soccer team."

The Knights face the first of two preseason tests against Division II opponent St. Leo, a team that went 10-6-1 overall and 4-3-1 in the Sunshine State Conference during 2006.

"The game against St. Leo is going to be well-scripted by our staff," said Cunningham. "We'll give our first team the time to run and try out some of the newcomers in different positions. It gives us the chance to gauge where we are and making the necessary changes before we open the regular season."

"It will be good to see our hard work pay off," said Hall. "We will be able to apply what we've learned in a game situation."

UCF also plays an exhibition match against Jacksonville on Aug. 24 then kicks off the regular season at in-state rival USF on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. After traveling to the New Mexico Invitational, the Knights play host to Stetson in their home opener on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.

Admission to UCF men's soccer for the 2007 season is free to all. Parking is $5 and located in Garage F behind the UCF Arena complex.

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