Following the graduation of both starting senior center backs Cole Fletcher ’15 and Parker Converse ’15, Ethan Blaser ’17 has shifted from his normal position as a defensive center midfielder to a center back for the Boys’ soccer team.
As a three-year varsity player, Blaser has been exposed to many forms of effective leadership. He looked up to center backs Fletcher and Converse, and hoped to emulate their successful partnership.
“I’ve seen the situations and the more situations I see, the better I’ll get,” Blaser said, “Cole and Parker, they were two of the best center backs we ever had. Parker is a bigger, stronger and more technical player while Cole was more athletic and better in the air. They were able to complement each other and their complementary relationship is something I look to build this year.”
Blaser believes that his time playing center back for his club team will help him adapt to his new role this year. Blaser explained that center back is a position where one must both be technically sound with their feet and mind.
“As a center back, you have to know the game more than anyone else on the field,” Blaser said, “You have to be able to adapt to any situation. The more situations you see, the more likely you’ll be able to cope with them.”
Moving to center back adds a new role for blaser as a leader of the team.
“Your role as center back is also to lead your teammates in many situations and that’s very important,” Blaser said, “The games i’ve played center back for my club team have been vital for gaining experience at the position and have served as good learning experiences.”
Team chemistry is an integral part of many successful soccer teams. Blaser thought that the time the team was together at their annual retreat was especially important.
“Everybody on the team respects each other,” Blaser said, “This is very important. The retreat was the best opportunity as a team to really bond and grow chemistry and get to know and understand each other’s tendencies. I think the closer you are off the pitch the closer you are on it.”
Not only was the retreat good for team bonding, but it allowed for the team to develop an identity as well.
Blaser doesn’t think that you should analyze one center backs play. Instead, he believes that the center backs should be evaluated as a pair and should be tested on how they work together in game situations.
“I idolize the partnership between [Nemanja] Vidić and [Rio] Ferdinand of Manchester united and between [Gerard] Piqué and [Carles] Puyol of [FC] Barcelona. Each player complements each other perfectly,” Blaser said.
Despite shifting from his normal position as a defensive holding midfielder, Blaser believes the midfield will mesh well without his presence.
“If all goes to plan, Ill play center back the whole year,” Blaser said, “Maybe if we’re down in a game where we have to rotate personel, I may have to move to a more attacking position. I hold all my trust in our center midfielders that we have already.”
Blaser looks forward to the upcoming season.
“I’m really looking forward to get out there onto the pitch,” Blaser said, “We got a great groups of guys [and] we have a good mixture of youth and experience. We’re looking to build on our great season from last year and hopefully make a nice playoff run and do better than we did last year.”