By Sam Donnelly, Staff Writer
The past week has seen many improvements for the Wildcats. The three-goal effort against Hofstra was their highest offensive output of the season. Three goals are also more than they had scored in their six previous games. The offensive production came from two goals from Fazal Nabi and one from David Schlatter, but the position change for Jesus Tudela proved to be the difference.
Tudela, who usually plays as a midfielder, was switched into a forward position, something Hoffman says complements his skill set.
“We made a staff-based decision based on a formational change,” Hoffman said. “Jesus is a very technical player who is good with the ball. We moved him to forward because he gets more opportunities to make scoring plays. It worked out.”
It certainly did. Tudela finished the game with two assists, one to Nabi, and the other to Shlatter. Tudela continually moved the ball up the wing and controlled it in the scoring area.
The other bright area of the Wildcat offense was more obvious. Nabi dominated the game on the offensive side of the ball. Nabi stepped up and buried a free kick from just outside the box into the bottom right corner of the net. Just minutes later, he made a perfect run and finished the ball off a cross from Tudela. His skill is noticeable, yet Hoffman says he is just scratching the surface.
“You haven’t seen the best of Faz,” Hoffman said. “He has a great engine and truly hasn’t played competitive soccer for two years. He is still coming into his own.”
The win against Hofstra, although important, isn’t good enough. The leadership of this team in the mind of Hoffman is still changing and has yet to be completely cemented.
“We lost a lot last year,” Hoffman said. “We’ve had a little bit of growing up to do as a team this season. There’s always a period to re-establish some things every season.”
Despite the leadership needing work, Hoffman wants to make it clear that the team is coming along.
“We are starting to find our identity,” Hoffman said. “I think the Hofstra game was a sign of things to come.”
In order to prove that the UNH men’s soccer team is spending this week preparing for a Marist team that has beaten them the past two years.
“Marist is a team that is focused on playing their game and they do it well,” assistant coach Logan Hoffman said. “As a team we want to get over the hump and beat them.”
Marist will enter the game with a 4-2-1 record, but are coming off a 5-1 loss against St. Joesph’s (N.Y.). The loss, Hoffman insists, doesn’t mean this team isn’t really talented.
“They’ve beaten us before,” Hoffman said. “They know what they have to do.”
As the Wildcats move into the Marist game, they will look for the same offensive performance from last game, while improving on team defense. Hoffman said the goal this week was to improve the discipline on defense in order to take the ball away from teams.
The Wildcats will take the field Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be played on Bremner Field.