The Cukar Corner: 2009 Men's Soccer Blog 7

Nick Cukar is a fourth-year senior on the 2009 San Jose State University men's soccer team. He is a local product out of Millbrae, Calif., and Capuchino High School. The Spartan co-captain has struck for 19 goals in his career from his left outside midfield spot, with an incredible 11 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 opens the MPSF portion of its 2009 schedule this Friday night, October 16, against the defending league champion Denver Pioneers. Kick-off under the lights at Spartan Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m. Individual game tickets for Spartan Soccer 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. The Denver match can also be heard live on-line, free of charge, at SJSUSpartans.com.

Blog Entry #7 (Wednesday, October 14)

Welcome, all Spartan Soccer fans, to another edition of The Cukar Corner blog.

Since my last blog, three games have passed, with two being out-of-state at the Houston Baptist University tournament. Our first game was on Friday (October 2) against HBU, which was a highly-anticipated game for us as we wanted to get revenge from our previous 1-0 loss to them up at Oregon State (on September 6), when we all thought we should have won. The night before, a thunderstorm hit Houston, leaving the field soaked and torn up by the time we kicked off, due to the Air Force-Howard game that was before ours. This made it feel as though we were playing on sand. However, we were able to establish our game early on, which led to a goal from Justin Castro, which I might add, was an excellent finish and gave us a lead that is always so important to get, especially on the road.

Another goal came later on from my counterpart on the left wing, Bob Jackson. It wasn't the prettiest goal, but the ball still went in the net, which is the most important thing. Good job, Bob. Keep up the good work and get some more goals!!! Our defense once again was solid, which led us to produce our second straight shutout. Good work, boys!

Our second game was on Sunday (October 4) versus Howard. The weather was a big factor yet again, as the match was to be played on the HBU practice field. This had to be one of the craziest games that I have ever been a part of. The night before, and all day Sunday, there was massive rain, thunder and lightning. As we warmed up, lightning struck three times, putting us in a 30-minute delay until the lightning storm was a safe distance away. This led us to head into our vans to wait it out.

Once in the car, we turned on the music, with Bobby, who was not only a goal-scorer this trip, but an American Idol hopeful (who could possibly get Simon Cowell's approval), singing numerous slow songs and James Taylor's top song, "You've Got a Friend." After about an hour waiting in the vans and keeping loose with numerous types of music, we were finally able to play the game, which would turn out to not be a soccer game at all. Most of the field was flooded, with massive puddles leaving the ball to constantly come to a complete stop almost every time a pass was made. We had many chances for breakaways and great through balls that were all taken away from us by the ball getting stuck at every part of the field. We were lucky enough to get a goal from Ricky Dorrego, who cashed in on a rebound for the game-winner. Once again, our defense held up, even with the injury loss of Fish (Oscar M.) in the second half. Way to go back line and Jon, to keep a shutout in such a hectic "Mud Bowl" game.

Our latest game was a rare non-conference game against our conference foe, Sacramento State. The last time we played the Hornets was in our last game of 2008. That game was extremely physical, leading to red cards being shown to a player of each team. We knew going into this match that it was going to be very physical, as well as emotional, everything that conference games bring day in and day out. This would be the best possible game for us to get fully prepared for conference coming up. The game was nothing short of what we expected, which led to a great performance from us, most notably in the second half, which saw us go down a goal, come back and score two goals to win the highly-emotional game.

Our first goal came from a PK which was drawn by Colby, who did a fantastic job of bravely getting to the ball high in the air with his chest, and then getting his body in between him and the defender, which led to the brutal tackle to award us the PK. Well done, Colby, always finding a way to set up important goals (returning MPSF assist leader)! Little Oscar (Yniguez) was the beneficiary of Colby's relentless work, stepping in for Fish (Oscar M. due to his injury from the game vs. Howard) and converting the PK. The opposing goalie got a fingertip to the ball, but it was not enough to stop Oscar's shot.

Our second goal came off a set piece (corner kick). Coach (St. Clair) emphasizes our need to win the set-piece battles, in order to win games. This turned out to be true. Ricky sent in a wonderful ball, which I was able to get a head on and put the ball in the back of the net. It was my first game-winner of the year after the seven that I had last season. Scoring that goal felt great, as it was against our conference rival, Sacramento State, but more importantly, it came off a corner kick. We had practiced them so much the day before, and couldn't put the ball in the net no matter how hard we tried, or without defenders.

Overall, the game was a good test, and gave us a great understanding of what conference play is really about, especially the younger guys, who have yet to experience such games. I believe that this team is finally finding its rhythm, and is really ready to begin conference and look to winning the MPSF championship come November. I hope to see you guys Friday night when we host Denver in the conference opener!!! Stay safe and stay dry this week!

GO SPARTANS!!!

-Nick

2009 San Jose State Men's Soccer Blog Entries

August 15 - Nick Cukar, Senior Co-Captain

August 25 - Nick Cukar, Senior Co-Captain

August 30 - Nick Cukar, Senior Co-Captain

September 9

September 17

September 29

October 14