ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF men's soccer head coach Bryan Cunningham judges his team during its spring campaign not on wins and losses, but on improvement. And under that criteria, the Knights just completed a successful spring.
UCF played five exhibition matches between mid-February and mid-April, including three contests against professional squads. Cunningham was pleased that his players were focused on improving each and every day both individually and as a team.
In February, the Knights met Philadelphia and Toronto FC of the MLS and also faced St. Leo. After a month without a match, UCF then played Orlando City of the USL in late March and then concluded its schedule against the University of Tampa.
"They are working hard to make sure that this program keeps moving forward."
"I thought the first half the spring went great. The players worked extremely hard playing a couple of pro teams and a college team," Cunningham said. "They came back in the second part and the players were at it every day. Even on their days off, they were out there on their own training. They are working hard to make sure that this program keeps moving forward."
Following the departure of five seniors from last year's team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship for the second-straight season, Cunningham was hoping to see some new leaders develop for the Knights in the spring and that certainly did occur.
"We've got a great group of leaders that are on this team and they are going to propel us to some great things this fall. Andrew Quintana emerged as the unanimous pick to lead our team as the captain. A.J. Nelson is going to be a great leader for us. I could see him being nominated as the captain in the fall. A junior, Steven Lamberta, is a tremendous kid and I see him taking a leadership role in the future as well," he said.
Several Knights will play in development leagues over the summer and Cunningham expects his team to be ready to have another successful campaign when preseason camp opens in August.