At a mid-week practice last week, the Owls men’s soccer squad appeared relaxed and confident, despite finishing last season with a 5-8-2 record.
Dressed in red shirts, some players are joking, playing monkey in the middle with the guys in the middle having to kick the ball in order to get themselves out. Others make small talk with each other as they wait for head coach Kos Donev to get them in position for practice drills.
With 11 freshmen and sophomores on the 25 player roster, the Owls are still green but are aiming for a major turnaround.
“Not making the conference tournament hurt,” sophomore midfielder Deniz Bozkart said. “But the goal this year is to make the conference tournament and make a presence in the NCAA tournament.”
The team believes last year there were many untimely bounces that didn’t go their way.
“Soccer is a weird game sometimes,” Donev said. “Last year we dominated games in the statistics and even outplayed teams but still did not come with the win.”
Twelve of the Owls fifteen games last season were decided by two goals or less.
The Owls are 1-2 on the year so far. Bozkart, who plays for the Puerto Rico national team in the offseason with fellow sophomore Gabriel Rafols, has already seen strides made this season so far.
“The team is looking good,” Bozkart said. “We’re playing very well together and have been moving the ball a lot more game-by-game.”
In comparison to FAU’s other sports who play in the Sun Belt Conference, the men’s and women’s soccer teams both play in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The conference recently added former Big East member West Virginia.
The Owls were picked to finish last in the conference, but Donev is anticipating a much better season in 2012.
“This year, though, we are playing more together as a team and are focusing on being on the same page,” Donev said. “If we do these things we will definitely progress better as the year moves forward.”
The UP gets you acquainted with some of the key players for this season:
2011: 7 shots
2012: 1 goal
Favorite movie of all-time: “I have to go with 300.”
Most important thing to you as a child: “Most important thing was just staying close to God.”
2011: 13 shots (2nd on team)
2012: 6 shots (2nd on team)
1 GW (game winning) goal
Favorite TV show: Big Bang Theory
First CD: “My first CD was NSYNC. I got it when I was like 5 years old or maybe even younger.”
2011: Started 10 games
2012: 2 shots (5th on team)
First CD: “Bob Marley Greatest Hits. By far greatest CD of all time.”
Favorite TV show growing up: “It would have to be Premier League TV Show. I watched it with my dad all the time.”
2011: Started every game
2012: 1 assist
How old were you when you scored your first goal?: “I was five years old. I knew from that point on that I was good.”
First CD: “I really don’t recall the album but I know it was by Puddle of Mudd.”
6’1 165 pounds
Boca Raton, Fla.
2012: Started every game
First CD: Back in Black by AC/DC.
Favorite Food: “I really love seafood, so it is probably lobster.”
2011: Started 12 games
2012: Started every game
Memories About Childhood: “Growing up overseas in Saudi Arabia, Compared to America, the lifestyles were very different.”
Favorite Food: “I really like Mexican food. I just enjoy the spices and flavors.”