Marquette Wire

Men’s Soccer Preview

Dave Rossetti

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“For me, it’s not motivation — it’s just frustration,” Adlard said. “I don’t dwell on it because we did enough to win the game. We missed our chances.”

The 2003 team certainly has the potential to make a deeper run into the postseason. Senior captains forward Derek Gutierrez, midfielder Matt Darby and goalkeeper Adam Ubert, who was fourth in C-USA with a 1.12 goals against average, are all returning and expected to lead a roster replenished with 14 freshmen players during the off-season.

“I like the team on two levels,” Adlard said. “For one, the returning players seem to understand what we need from them … and the recruited class is basically extremely knowledgeable and talented and is a very good class. Put the two together and you have a good team.”

Members of the promising freshman group are already pushing returning players for playing time. Adlard said that Nathan Sabich, a defender/midfielder from Springfield, Ill., will start the team’s first game tomorrow at Denver.

“He’s in the forefront of our thinking,” Adlard said. “He’s very quick, very balanced — we like that.”

“I see myself contributing right away, along with a few other freshman as well,” Sabich said. “All the teammates are going to contribute to the team.”

Adlard added that freshmen midfielder/defender Ryan Nikchevich from Elmhurst, Ill., midfielder Rob Walton from Whitefish Bay and a few other newcomers are also under consideration to start this weekend.

Gutierrez, a three-year starter at Marquette, said he and his fellow seniors are looking forward to “being an example” of leadership for the freshman class as the team prepares to make another run at the title in a conference that Gutierrez calls “probably one of the deepest in the country.”

“If the seniors and I are busting our (butts), they’re going to want to raise their levels of play too,” he said.

Though Adlard likes his team’s chances, Marquette’s run at another C-USA title, which kicks off at home on Sept. 10 versus DePaul, won’t be a cakewalk. Defending C-USA regular season and tournament champion Saint Louis (No. 11 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s preseason rankings), UAB and South Florida are expected to be top-level teams by analysts. Adlard also expects Louisville and DePaul, teams with many returning players, to be much-improved squads.

“Any team that emerges above .500 (in C-USA play) will be a very good team that’ll win most of its games outside the conference,” Adlard said. “If anyone in the league can go undefeated, that would be incredible. Pat them on the back, job well done.”

The schedule, which includes a non-conference game against preseason No. 18 Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is difficult, but Adlard’s winning mentality won’t allow his team to go too soft for any stretch this season.

“We don’t go into any game feeling inferior,” he said. “We don’t go into any games thinking we’ll just give a good show and learn something from it, you know? Gutierrez and those boys don’t tolerate that, either.

“You’ve got to win. That’s all it’s about — winning.”

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