McGowan fights for starting role

first_img Published on September 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: mjcohe02@syr.edu | @Michael_Cohen13 The human spine allows for movement. Its 33 components, or vertebrae, all working together to facilitate the body’s motion. Syracuse men’s soccer coach Ian McIntyre considers the spine of his team to be his goalkeeper and his two central defenders. Three spots that are crucial to the success of the team. ‘(Those three spots) are the cornerstone of what you’re trying to do,’ he said. But 12 days ago, one of the Orange’s vertebrae broke when freshman defender Robbie Hughes went down with an ankle injury against Northeastern. Hughes is attempting to return for Saturday’s Big East opener against Pittsburgh. To mend that wound, McIntyre turned to senior Daniel McGowan. A starter for nearly half of last season under former head coach Dean Foti, McGowan has played in only four of the team’s five games in 2010. And he didn’t get his first start until Hughes’ injury.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Now that the spot is his, though, he doesn’t plan on giving it up any time soon. Drawing on his three years of college soccer experience, McGowan is hoping to prove himself one final time to McIntyre and SU (1-4) in Wednesday’s game at Cornell (3-2-1). A strong performance will hopefully, in his eyes, secure that starting position, even if Hughes is fit and ready for Saturday’s Big East opener. He yearns to strengthen McIntyre’s backbone. ‘I think it’s a bit of healthy competition,’ Hughes said. ‘Everyone’s fighting. Everyone wants to start. Nobody wants to sit on the bench.’ Especially McGowan. After two years at Division III Hamilton College, McGowan transferred to Syracuse prior to the 2009 season. But regardless of where he has played, he’s been in the starting lineup. Of his 42 career collegiate games prior to this season, McGowan had started 38 of them. Thus McIntyre knew he had an able replacement. When McGowan was called upon to substitute for Hughes on Sept. 10, his advice to the senior was simple. ‘He just told me ‘Do your best. You’ve got to step up because we are a man down,” McGowan said. In a situation like his, in which he is constantly trying to prove himself, nerves can often get in the way. Trying to be perfect all of the time can often lead to silly mistakes. But McGowan has felt comfortable in his new role as the starter because of who is playing alongside him. Teammates David Neumann and Justin Arena, who have been on the field with McGowan in the past two games against Columbia and American, were both with him last year, as well. That trio started five games together on defense in 2009. ‘It’s definitely helped (having them there),’ McGowan said. ‘We know how each other plays, and we know our weaknesses and our strengths. So we try to play with that (in mind).’ In Cornell, the Orange faces one of the only three teams it defeated a season ago. The 2-1 victory in the team’s home opener was its only win in September. A win on Wednesday would give the team its second victory of the month with two more games still to play. But with Big East play less than a week away, the team can’t get caught looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup against Pittsburgh. Until the whistle blows after 90 minutes on Wednesday night, 100 percent of the focus has to be on the Big Red. ‘We’re doing one day at a time,’ Hughes said. ‘When Wednesday comes, we’ll be ready for Cornell. Hopefully we’ll get a bit of confidence and score a few goals.’ One day at a time and one game a time. That’s the mentality of the team, and that’s the mentality for McGowan. Because for him, it really is all about one game. While the team was in Washington, D.C., this weekend to face American, Hughes remained in Syracuse to receive treatment. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, he had four physical therapy sessions and has targeted the Big East opener against Pittsburgh as his goal to return. If Hughes has his way, that makes Wednesday night the last chance for McGowan to impress. But he won’t be nervous, that’s not an issue. He’s been here in the past. Now it’s just a matter of staying. ‘I’ve played in the spot before,’ he said. ‘I started a few games last year, and I’m just looking to earn my spot back and try to keep it. That’s one thing I’m definitely trying to do.’ Mjcohe02@syr.edu Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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