The Cukar Corner: 2009 Men's Soccer Blog 8

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 a kinesiology major.

San Jose State is on the road this weekend, but returns to Spartan Stadium the following week for two final home matches for the 2009 season. On Friday night, October 30, San Jose State hosts UNLV in the second half of a Spartan Soccer doubleheader, immediately after the 5:00 p.m. Senior Night contest between the Spartan women and rival Fresno State. The men then welcome perennial conference power New Mexico on Sunday, November 1, with kick-off set for 1:00 p.m. on Senior Day. That match can be heard live, free of charge, here at SJSUSpartans.com.

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.

Blog Entry #8 (Wednesday, October 21)

Hey all Spartan soccer fans! I'm here with another installment of The Cukar Corner! Ahhh, finally, conference time is here, where the games mean twice as much. What better way to start conference play than with the defending MPSF champs, Denver. Last year, we were a bit unlucky against Denver, losing in overtime at home and getting a tie there, when we were up 2-0 at half-time, so this game had a lot of implications; revenge from last season, and to make a statement that we are going to be a team to beat for the conference championship.

What a game it was, very emotional and physical to the very last minute of play, as we went into two overtimes once again with Denver, and got a spectacular free-kick goal from Justin Castro. The finish was top-class. From my angle, I couldn't tell if the ball hit the outside of the goal or just side netting, but Justin knew from the moment he kicked it that it was in. Great stuff, Justin. Keep up the great play. I also want to make a note that our back-line played excellent once again, and should get all the credit in the world for keeping Denver to just four shots on goal the entire game, leading to another (Jonathan) Lester shutout. Great stuff, guys.

On Sunday, we faced the Falcons of Air Force, who are always a tough opponent due to their relentless work ethic and physical play. This year's Air Force team was a bit different from the ones in years past, as they tried to play and possess a lot more than just running and playing direct kicks like usual. We were fortunate enough to get a great game-winning goal from Dan Addiego off another set piece for his first collegiate goal to beat the Falcons, 1-0 yet again.

A vast improvement this year has been our effectiveness and our ability to score off of set pieces. Ever since I've been here, we have always addressed set pieces and talked about how important they are to winning and losing games, and that to win games, our set pieces needed to be in the positives (- for goals conceded off set pieces, + for goals scored off set pieces). Up until this year, we have usually been losing the set-piece game, so it goes to show that this team is willing to work hard to assess our weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

I want to congratulate Jon (Lester) on his award for Co-MPSF Player of the Week, as he posted two clean sheets this weekend to help us get to the top of the conference. I think it's fair to say that our back-line and collective team defense earned this award as well as Jon, for shutting teams down and not allowing a goal in quite some time. Good work, boys. Let's keep it up!!!

On another note, I was able to get in touch with former Spartan and team captain, Ed Brand, and see what he has been up to since graduating last spring. Here is what his e-mail said:

"I'm working full-time at Chelsea Football Club (in London), coaching in the academy, and I also work in the performance analysis department, which includes work with the first team. I am coaching four times a week with games on Sunday against the likes of (London clubs) Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham, etc. I have travelled abroad to coach in a tournament that included the likes of (Holland's) Ajax (Amsterdam) and PSV (Eindhoven). I have done work for Chelsea TV as well. I have decided to put playing on hold. I have had an inquiry from a semi-pro team, but have declined due to my coaching commitments. I still follow San Jose State fanatically, constantly checking results and performances on the website; 2-0 in conference, great start! Keep it up, Spartans!"
-Ed

I just want to wish Ed the best of luck with his work, and hope he finds great success like he did while wearing the Spartan blue and gold. This weekend, we head off to Bakersfield and Seattle for two crucial conference games that will be tough, but I feel we can be successful as long as our preparation remains the same, if not better, than it has been for the last few weeks. Let's get some big wins this weekend, boys, and make some noise!!!

Take care, Spartan fans! 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

October 21