UCF Men's Soccer Hits the Practice Field to Open 2008 Season

Aug. 13, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The second season of the Bryan Cunningham era got underway for the UCF Men's Soccer team Wednesday morning at the UCF Soccer Complex, and there were plenty of new faces getting accustomed to one another at the Knights' first practice. Not only does Cunningham welcome 22 newcomers to his program as part of his first recruiting class, but his coaching staff also has two new additions since the Knights finished their 2007 season last November.

With many of the players around during the summer taking summer classes and working out, the players and coaches have gotten to know each other, but Wednesday morning provided a chance to officially take the field for the first time as a team.

"We talked last night about the importance of unity and teamwork as we prepare for the season," Cunningham said. "We discussed setting norms in the way we defend and the way we attack the goal offensively, and we came out today committed to doing that. That commitment to teamwork will be important to taking us to the next level."

With so many newcomers and 27 underclassmen all told, the squad's two returning seniors, Chris Andaur and Ryan Roushandel, will be looked to early on to provide their leadership and experience to a talented group of young players.

"I know those new guys look to Chris (Andaur) and me for leadership," Roushandel stated after the opening practice. "I welcome the challenge. Coach brought in a lot of talented guys, and it is important to be a mentor to them, showing them the differences between college and high school on and off the field."

In Cunningham's first season at the helm of the UCF program, the Knights went 4-12-2 overall and 0-6-2 in Conference USA play. Roushandel led the Black and Gold with eight goals and 17 points. The Atlanta, Ga., native was voted to the All-Conference USA Second Team and selected to the NSCAA All-South Region Third Team.

Wednesday morning's practice was the first of two scheduled for the opening day of preseason camp, with the second slated to begin at 6:00 p.m. The Knights will waste little time in testing their ability to gel quickly on the field. UCF welcomes Rollins College to the UCF Soccer Complex Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in the first of three home exhibition games.

"We told the players they are being evaluated right from the beginning to see who will get to play on Friday." Cunningham said. "Having three exhibitions is all part of the master plan to get a young team ready to open the regular season against Penn State."

All home matches at the UCF Soccer Complex are free to the public this season. The Knights will have a total of seven games on their home field, including the home opener against Memphis on Saturday, September 20, at 7:00 p.m.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.