University of Central Florida — It didn’t take long for Orlando City B to take over its exhibition match against the University of Central Florida Knights Sunday.
Michael Cox tallied a hat-trick in the first half, and William Eyang capped the scoring late, as Orlando City B defeated the Knights 4-0 on Sunday at the UCF Track and Soccer Complex.
For most of the first half, OCB’s starting 11 dominated possession time, as the host Knights saw cross after cross enter from the left side of the field. The consistent flurry of entry passes eventually led to Cox tallying a hat-trick by the 35th minute.
The Lions scored their fourth goal in the 82nd minute by Eyang.
OCB head coach Anthony Pulis was pleased with the first half’s starting 11.
“The first-half performance was excellent,” Pulis said. “We were really pleased with the boys. We’ve worked on quite a bit of tactical stuff this week, in-possession and out-possession, and then they took on board a majority of that work that we’ve done.”
With regard to the team’s second-half performance, Pulis said there is a lot that needs improving early in the preseason.
“We were a little disappointed with our performance [in the] second half, in-possession, out-possession. We were probably two or three yards off the opposition when we didn’t have the ball, and when we did have it, we weren’t positive enough in our play.”
Toward the 23rd minute, UCF found some time on the Lions’ half of the field. But there was not much that worked offensively for the Knights. The closest to a goal that UCF got came with under 10 minutes in regulation when the Knights seemingly had a goal, but it was ultimately cleared out.
“I thought the back four were good,” Pulis said. “I thought Zach [Ellis-Hayden], Kyle McFadden, Craig Nitti and Mike Ambrose did well. To be honest, with that 11 that started the first half, I was pretty pleased with most of them.”
Cox records hat-trick
The 23-year-old found his first of three goals in the 10th minute after a free kick from just outside the right side of the Knights’ box. Cox then collected a rebound, and powered it through the back of the net in the 25th minute for his second goal. His third goal came in the 35th minute, following a foul in the penalty box.
Despite his success in Sunday’s friendly, Cox said he still has room to improve.
“For me, I need to be faster on the ball,” Cox said. “More of a killer mentality when I get the ball, going to goal, doing my job and scoring goals consistently.”
Pulis said he was delighted for Cox for tallying his hat-trick, but said there is still room for improvement.
“[He’s] grown, and gotten better as preseason’s gone on, and we believe he’s going to be a good player [and a threat] for us this year,” Pulis said. “He’s obviously very quick, very athletic. The biggest thing with him is coaching him when, where and how to make his forward runs, because when he gets in his stride, and he gets in behind opposition’s defenders, then he’s going to cause problems.”
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