Sept. 30, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State men's soccer freshmen Josh Barens, Wesley Curtis and Tim Kreutz aren't in high school anymore. Joining a team who returned ten starters this year, these freshmen take the field with something to prove.
"I think any freshman coming into a good program feels like they have to prove themselves," said defender Josh Barens, "so you just try to work harder or do something extra."
But they seem to be adjusting to college-level soccer well, considering they have earned two starting positions, a regular substitution spot and a combined for three points this year. Wesley Curtis, from McKinney, Texas, is currently holding one of those starting positions - starting in all eight games so far this season. The midfielder is an asset to MSU's defense and is consistently relied upon by head coach Damon Rensing to protect the Spartan net.
"I just go out there and give 110%. You hope to play well, you want to play well and I think we play pretty well," said Curtis.
Although he has yet to start a game, Tim Kreutz, from Zurich, Ill., is a positive addition to the team. The forward has assisted on two goals this year, including one in the 2-0 victory over Northwestern in the Big Ten opener. Currently, he is tied for tenth in the Big Ten in assists. Kreutz remains encouraged on where his stands on the depth chart, because he knows his time will come.
"The players in front of me, Jeff [Ricondo] and Cyrus [Saydee], are very skilled, so I knew I wouldn't be starting right away," said Kreutz. "There are two freshmen who do start, but at my position, I knew I would have to work hard for it. I'm just doing what I can and I've been slowly getting more minutes."
Josh Barens, from Diamondale, Mich., is the other freshman with a starting role. Barens has been in the starting lineup for seven of the eight games, while assisting on the game-winning goal against Notre Dame.
All three freshmen give credit for their successful start at MSU to their seasoned teammates. Aside from the harmless teasing that comes with the initiation of newcomers, the upperclassmen have showed great leadership on and off the field.
"I look up to Jeff Ricondo - he is a captain and he plays my position, " said Kreutz. "Even when I'm not on the field I look to see what he does and base what I want to do off of him."
While they all play different roles and positions, these freshmen agree that having novice players participate will improve the individual and the team whether they see playing time or not. " The practices are intense, so we're still getting good experiences," said Barens. "It's important to know where you stand on the team," said Kreutz. "If you get a chance to play, you had better take advantage of it."
After playing in their first Big Ten game last weekend, these freshman look forward to accomplishing the goals they set for themselves this season, and the ones they want to achieve before they graduate.
"I want to win as much as I can, whether that means a Big Ten Championship or a National Championship. Hopefully, the winning will be a habit," said Curtis.
"I want to win a Big Ten Championship, and maybe a National Championship by the time I graduate," agreed Barens.
"Before the end of this year I want to get more playing time," said Kreutz. "I also want to get my first actual goal, because the rest of the team jokes that my pre-season goal doesn't count."
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