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September 08, 2006 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-08

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8, 2006
Blue ready for 'breakout season'

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
More than half of the Michigan
men's soccer team is underclass-
men, and the young Wolverines
carry a heavy burden on their
shoulders.
"Our expectations are that we
compete at a national level," Michi-
gan coach Steve Burns said. "Look
for this to be a breakout season,
not necessarily because we will
have a huge amount of wins, but
more because we will .learn how
to play at that national level and,
hopefully, make it to the NCAA
Tournament."
Michigan (1-3-0) certainly
doesn't have a smooth path to the
NCAAs lined up. Eleven of the
19 teams the Wolverines face this
year competed in last year's tour-
nament.
But Burns said this year's
team has already demonstrated
an extremely high level of fitness
that should play in its favor late in
games.
"From top to bottom, everyone

loves to work hard," Burns said.
"The team has a very driven, deter-
mined personality this year."
The senior leaders know a thing
or two about work ethic. These
veterans were all freshmen when
Michigan made a run to the Elite
Eight in the 2003 NCAA tourna-
ment. But none of them played a
significant amount of minutes that
season.
"We've got ego-less leadership
this year," Burns said. "These
seniors were role players in the
early stages of their career. They
have a real understanding of what it
takes to be successful. They know
that it's not just about winning
games, but the process and all the
work it takes to get there."
Seniors Kevin Hall, Brian
Popeney and Kevin Savitske were
among the seniors elected co-cap-
tains this year. Burns said that each
brings a slightly different style of
leadership to the team. Hall is the
on-field leader; Popeney is the more
vocal, locker-room captain; and
Savitske is the more quiet, lead-by-
example type.

Just as this group of seniors had
to vie for their starting positions
as rookies, the youngsters on this
year's team are also in a tight com-
petition - making the coaches'
jobs more difficult in divvying out
playing time on the one hand but
providing an invaluable reserve
tank on the other.
"We have a core of about 20 guys
that all deserve to be on the field,"
Burns said. "We're going to see
more players in starting lineups and
more substitutions this year."
So far two freshmen forwards,
Mauro Fuzetti and Peri Marosevic,
are among the deserving players.
Fuzetti, an attack-minded player,
has already tallied two assists.
"Mauro has to be on the field for
us," Burns said. "He can be that
special player like Peri who can
really open up the game for us. In
soccer, games are often decided by
a couple special plays, and you need
guys who can make them. Mauro is
one of them."
The Wolverines will also look to
Marosevic to be a key scorer this
season. He has already tallied his

first point in Michigan's sole win,
which came against Northern Illi-
nois last Friday.
Going into the season, Burns
decided to change the way Michi-
gan prepared for its opponents -
mostly by ignoring them.
"Last year, we were always look-
ing at the other team's tactics and
trying to exploit their weaknesses,"
Burns said. "This year, the focus
is, 'Let's do what we do well and
continue to work at it and do it at
highest level possible.' We run a
possession-based game that is all
about ball movement, changing
the point of attack and finding that
third man running. When you can
play like that, you can really open
up against any team. And we have
the work ethic to do it."
The Wolverines will look to
hop back on the victory train this
weekend when they host the Michi-
gan Invitational at the U-M Soc-
cer Field. Michigan will square off
against Butler tonight at 7:30 p.m.
and cap off the weekend against
Virginia Commonwealth at 2:30
p.m. on Sunday.

A

4

I

FILE PHOTO
Senior co-captain Kevin Hall is an on-field leader from his
defensive spot.
CENTRAL
Continued from page 12

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The Chippewas' special teams
showed off a little trickery a
week ago. On fourth-and-two at
the Eagles' 18-yard line, Central
Michigan lined up to kick a field
goal. Instead, Chippewas place-
kicker Tony Mikulec carried the
ball for a five-yard gain, setting
up a 13-yard touchdown pass
three plays later.
If Central Michigan can get
the Wolverines to bite on anoth-
er trick play, it could make the
game interesting. Either way,
look for Breaston to bounce
back with a big game after his
rough first outing.
Edge: Michigan
Intangibles:
Central Michigan coach Brian
Kelly took a lot of flack in the
media for throwing in gadget
plays late against Boston Col-
lege, which may have cost his
Chippewas a shot at an upset
victory. His goal is to erase that
memory and put his name back
on the map as being the offen-
sive genius that led Grand Val-
ley State to two national titles
when he coached there.
Michigan, on the other hand,
may be caught looking ahead.
Though the coaching staff is
probably hammering the "take-
it-one-week-at-a-time" message
during the week of practice, it's
hard not to look ahead toward
the following week when the
Wolverines will have a chance
for revenge against Notre Dame,
who beat Michigan last season
in Ann Arbor.
Edge: Central
Michigan
The Chippewas almost pulled
off the upset against Boston
College, but the Eagles are no
Michigan. Expect the Wolver-
ines to roll in their final tuneup
before taking on No. 4 Notre
Dame.
Prediction: Michigan 38, Cen-
tral Michigan 10
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