DOWNERS GROVE – There was soccer last fall for Paul Hogan. Then there was spring soccer. Then the trend continued.
Hogan has immersed himself in soccer this summer to get ready for the 2013 season at Northern Illinois University.
“I’m always working out,” Hogan said of his summer routine. “I played with the U23 Downers Grove Roadrunners and I did 1-on-1 soccer sessions with little kids at Doerhoefer Park.”
Hogan hopes all that playing and training will pay dividends for himself and the Huskies this season. Last fall, they made it to the Mid-America Conference championship game against Akron, but came up short. Hogan is looking for a different outcome this time around.
“We won the MAC championship my freshman year, which was a big deal, and we got to the NCAA tournament and won a game,” Hogan said. “My sophomore year [last year], we played at a higher level but we weren’t quite as successful. We gave Akron a fight. We hope to knock them off this time.”
The Zips are perennially one of the top teams in NCAA Division I soccer. If the Huskies are to unseat Akron as conference champs, they will have to do so with a new-look roster that features eight freshmen and just four seniors.
As the young players adjust to the college game, Hogan can provide some first-hand knowledge of the transition.
“The speed of everything is different,” Hogan said. “In high school, I was kind of one of the fastest guys out there. I came here and I was one of the slowest. The pace of the game is the biggest difference.”
Adjusting to the college game took time for Hogan, and it wasn’t just the speed of the game that took getting used to. It also was adjusting to his role and to the style of play the Huskies employ.
“I’ve progressed a lot,” Hogan said. “When I was younger, I was just going out and playing. Now I’m more familiar with the system [the coaches] have for us. I think I’m a lot smarter and make better decisions.”
Hogan said the Huskies typically run a 4-2-3-1 formation with one striker spearheading the attack. Along with senior James Stevenson, Hogan is one of just two forwards listed on the roster. After playing in all 20 matches last season, Hogan would love nothing more than to do the same this fall, but team goals come first.
“In general, our goal is to win the MAC and make it to the NCAA tournament,” Hogan said. “As far as my goals, I always work my butt off and do whatever I can to help the team win. That’s my main goal.”