Catching up: Men's soccer bouncing back

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The UC men's soccer team opened with a slow start but are gaining steam as Big East play opens this weekend. 

Joseph Gryniewski

Special to

The University of Cincinnati men's soccer team responded well to season start that included five consecutive matches without a win by pulling out two victories over the weekend. The Bearcats own a 3-4-1 record heading into a tough match with Big East rival Pittsburgh on Saturday. Coach Hylton Dayes credits the players ability to stay optimistic despite the team's early struggles as a major reason for their turnaround.

"They haven't been hanging their heads," he said. "They've been working so hard, but hadn't been getting the results we needed. So it felt great to get those wins, and I felt so happy for the guys."

UC beat Towson on Friday, 1-0, and Gardner-Webb by the same score in overtime Sunday.The slow start provided them with the test they needed to get prepared for conference play.

"We needed that kind of challenge to compete in Big East play," Dayes said.

--- Jacob Martinez made an instant impact in the opening half of his first season. The freshman netted the overtime game-winner against Gardner-Webb over the weekend.

For a team that scored only three times in the first six matches, Dayes needs Martinez to be a major part of the scoring effort as the season progresses.

"Jacob is a guy that is going to score goals for us going forward," Dayes said. "Until this weekend he had been out all year, but Jacob is the type of player that will score plenty more before it is said and done."

--- With the team headed into Big East play this week, Dayes knows what challenges lie ahead and how the team will achieve success against conference foes.

"The challenge of the Big East is that every game is a tough game," he said. "You really have to strive for consistency, because you can play your best, and still find ways to lose. Hopefully the games we have played will have prepared us for a quality opponent like Pitt on the road."

Even though Dayes feels like the team will need to rely on the game tape and the scouting reports to prepare for an unfamiliar Pittsburgh team, he feels as though it might be an advantage saying, "they don't know us either."

--- Injuries hampered the team through the early portion of the season and continue to set them back as Big East play begins.

Emmanuel Appiah and Leon Powell have missed the first eight matches of the season. When either returns is still unknown and hanging over the team.

"Our guys are still day-to-day," Dayes said. "We are going to have to go with who we have, and I'm not sure we are going to be getting anyone back soon.

Dayes understands that the team cannot be worried with injuries going into such a crucial stretch of their schedule.

"We are going to miss those guys, but at the end of the day we are going to have to go with who is out there, hopefully those guys can stay healthy, and we will get good results on the road," he said.

--- The next two weeks will be crucial for the team as they travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday to start Big East play, followed by a three game home stand featuring conference foes Syracuse and South Florida. After that, the team will head to New York to face currently undefeated Saint John's.

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