2009 Spartan Men's Soccer Blog 1

Three-time team captain and journalism major Ed Brand authored The Spartan Brand throughout the 2008 campaign for San Jose State Men's Soccer. This year, SJSUSpartans.com will attempt to bring fans occasional entries from a handful of players, but primarily from fourth-year senior standout Nick Cukar. He leads off the blog as the squad finally opens training camp ahead of the new season on Saturday, August 15, with three practice sessions.

Nick is a local product out of Capuchino High School who has struck for 15 goals from his outside midfield spot over the past two seasons, with 10 of them game-winners. The 2008 second-team all-region and first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation selection is the leading returning goal-scorer in the conference. Nick is a kinesiology major.

San Jose State hosts Cal State Monterey Bay in an exhibition match on the brand-new FieldTurf inside Spartan Stadium on Friday, August 28, at 5:00 p.m. Individual game tickets for Spartan Soccer go on sale on Monday, August 17. Prices are $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for youth aged 12 and under, and $1.00 for youth in soccer jerseys. San Jose State students can attend all matches free of charge with a valid Tower ID card. Groups of 20 or more receive a discounted rate. Gates open one hour prior to the start of each match.

Blog Entry #1 (Saturday, August 15)

Hello, and welcome to the first blog of the semester! My name is Nick Cukar, and I'm a fourth-year senior out of Millbrae, Calif. I play left-midfield for your San Jose State Spartans men's soccer team. I hope to provide an interesting insight into hopefully a very enjoyable but ultimately successful season for Spartan Men's Soccer!

To be successful, however, you need to have a strong work ethic and leadership. Last week, we had captains' training, which is run by the captains without any coaches present. We started last Wednesday and went through Sunday, with a morning and afternoon session each day. It was nice to see some familiar faces, as well as new faces which I hope will help us pick up from our fantastic end to the 2008 season, going 5-0-1.

As for the training part of camp, I thought it went really well. We set out some goals to accomplish from the training, and were successful in doing so. We went through some fitness (which everyone seems to hate) and played a lot (which everyone liked), which I think will help us going into camp (starting Saturday), as guys got the feel for playing with each other. We start camp at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning with a Cooper test. A Cooper test is a fitness test where we have to run two miles in only 12 minutes! What a way to be welcomed back! It's a difficult task just hearing it, but as I recall, about 90% of the boys passed last year, so it should be no different this year.

These first two days are just laying the foundations, and we are aware that to be successful, we all need to improve as the season progresses, one step at a time. I'm excited about this group of guys. I was a little skeptical after losing the core of our team (Ed, Rich, Sam, Hiroki, Gavin, Lewis). Those guys have been a big part of our success the past two seasons, and our second-half undefeated run (in 2008). The group that we have coming into camp is looking good though. We have some experienced players, players who can explode this season, and players who are inexperienced at the college level, but I believe can do very well if not this year, then the next one for sure.

Our first match is against Cal State Monterey Bay in the new Spartan Stadium on Friday, August 28, at 5:00pm. I'm looking forward to the game. However, playing on FieldTurf will be different. I feel that being the only team in our conference with FieldTurf, we can use this to our advantage, and hopefully get some quality wins in front of our home fans. I hope to see you all out there this year, as we pursue another winning season, with a berth into the NCAA Championship.

Stay Classy San Jose,

Go Spartans!