Inside Ben Polk’s experience at the MLS SuperDraft

first_img Published on January 19, 2016 at 9:47 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossman As MLS commissioner Don Garber walked on stage with still more than two minutes for the Portland Timbers to announce their first-round pick in the MLS SuperDraft, Ben Polk was sure Garber was about to announce another trade.Seven teams within the first 19 picks had already swapped draft picks, and Polk thought the Timbers’ selection was coming too quickly to have already decided on a player.But as the words “Syracuse University” spilled out of Garber’s mouth, Polk recalled uttering, “Oh my God.” He embraced Syracuse volunteer assistant coach Blair Stevenson and headed up the stage to meet the commissioner.“I tried to play it cool,” Polk said, “pretend I wasn’t nervous.”He was so caught up in his “play it cool” act, Polk realized on stage he forgot to bring up his speech notes he’d held on to the entire day. But he delivered short words, thanking his former coach Pepe Aragon at Herkimer Community College and SU head coach Ian McIntyre and his staff.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Related Stories Heavy lifting: Ben Polk carries aspects from turbulent childhood into SU careerFormer Syracuse players Julian Buescher and Ben Polk are selected in 1st round of MLS SuperDraftBen Polk header launches Syracuse to 1st Final Four in program historyJulian Buescher accepts Generation Adidas contract and becomes eligible for MLS SuperDraft Facebook Twitter Google+ Polk walked off the stage in the Baltimore Convention Center as a member of the Timbers and the final first-round selection of the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday, picked nine spots after former Orange teammate Julian Buescher. It was a weight lifted off his shoulders, as with each passing first-round pick he tried not to think about his lackluster performance at the MLS Player Combine just days prior.He’ll head to Portland, Oregon, for the first time ever on Wednesday, and three days later he’ll fly to training camp in Arizona to begin his professional career.“I’m nervous,” Polk said. “But they obviously saw something they liked in me. They’re going to work with me.“I’m only gonna get better.”After Syracuse’s season ended in a penalty-kick loss to Clemson in the College Cup semifinal on Dec. 11, Polk struggled to stay in shape. Inclement weather at home in Banbury, England, kept Polk off the pitch.He didn’t touch a soccer ball again until working out with Toronto FC on Jan. 5 — 25 days since losing to the Tigers in his final collegiate match. Polk could tell immediately that his touch was off, and that translated to his workouts in the combine two days later.The first game of the combine “was like a million miles an hour,” and Polk knew he wasn’t in good enough shape. He was more capable of long-distance running instead of executing quick sprints and cuts.“I just wasn’t the same player,” Polk said. “There was times where I was like ‘Aw for God’s sake Ben they’re coming to watch you do what you do well.’“And I was just not doing it well.”He shook off the rust in the second scrimmage, netting a shot past the 6-foot-2 frame of former Creighton goalie Connor Sparrow. The familiar presence of McIntyre and Buescher helped too, Polk said, but Buescher was likely the most talented player on the field, according to Polk.Eight MLS teams conducted face-to-face interviews with Polk toward the end of the combine — not Portland though — and he flew back to Syracuse to meet up with McIntyre, Stevenson and assistant coach Matt Verni to drive to the draft in Baltimore.“See, I’m still taking care of you,” Polk recalled McIntyre joking with him on the drive. “Still needing things from me and you’re not even one of my players anymore.”Playing at Syracuse was a life-changing experience for Polk, he said, and the program’s historic success in 2015 gave him the platform to end up playing professionally.As he spends his final hours on campus, primarily sifting through the 300-plus social media notifications he received on draft day, he’s still struggling to fathom what’s transpired in the five short months since he arrived at SU.“To go in the first round is obviously crazy,” Polk said. “I didn’t expect that to happen coming to Syracuse in August.“(Being at Syracuse) was definitely one of the high points in my life.” Commentslast_img read more

No. 2 Syracuse beats Hobart, 17-11, for sixth straight victory

first_img Published on April 5, 2017 at 10:15 pm Contact Charlie: csdistur@syr.edu | @charliedisturco UPDATED: April 6, 2017 at 5:46 p.m.GENEVA, N.Y. — From 1987 through 2016, Syracuse has had its way with Hobart. All but twice the Orange captured the Kraus-Simmons Trophy. But that didn’t stop a group of students from throwing eggs at the team bus pregame or the chants that followed after.Hobart kept the first quarter tight, trailing by just one goal. The student section responded during the layover with an expletive-laden chant. The game remained bitter in the second quarter, during which Nate Solomon scored his third goal of the game with three Hobart defenders draped around him. The sophomore attack’s celebration prefaced a one-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.“I lost my cool,” Solomon said before glancing toward SU head coach John Desko. “I’ll never do that again.”No. 2 Syracuse (8-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) struck first and never trailed in its 17-11 win on Wednesday night, even with Hobart (4-6, 1-1 Northeast) keeping the game close at Boswell Field. It extended the Orange’s dominance over Hobart since 1987, now having won 29 of the last 31 contests. Solomon and senior Nick Mariano both tied career highs as SU ended its program-record streak of seven consecutive one-goal games.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMariano has led Syracuse’s offense during its six-game winning streak. He scored four goals and added three assists in the win, playing from the midfield for most of the game and drawing a short-stick defender. That gave him more room with which to work. During SU’s man-up opportunities, he scored three of his four goals.Mariano tied his career high in points at Syracuse, which came in the season opener against Siena. That was the last time an SU game wasn’t decided by one goal. The reigning two-time ACC Offensive Player of the Week, Mariano has strung together three straight games of three-plus goals.“It’s being up top a little more,” Mariano said. “It’s allowing me to be a little more free and get a short stick most of the time.”Colin Davy | Asst. Photo EditorFor three quarters, Hobart kept the game close. Up by three with under seven minutes in the third, Syracuse had a man-up opportunity and the chance to pull away. Man-up specialist Brad Voigt found the ball in front of the net, but he passed it off to the side, where Mariano stood unguarded. A top shelf shot put the Orange up by four. A little over three minutes later, Mariano scored again.“The pattern has been, for the last couple of years,” Hobart head coach Greg Raymond said, “fight with those guys for three quarters, keep it close. But this year, that didn’t happen.”As Mariano transitioned more toward the midfield, junior Brendan Bomberry joined senior Jordan Evans and Solomon on attack. The offense worked the ball around, finding most of its goals coming from off-ball cuts toward the net. Solomon took advantage of the opportunities, making acrobatic shots to extend Syracuse’s lead.Solomon’s first goal came two minutes and 52 seconds into the second quarter off a pass from senior midfielder Sergio Salcido, who finished with four assists for the second straight game. Stumbling toward the ground, Solomon turned and underhand-shoveled the ball past Hobart goalie Jackson Brown.“He’s a right spot at the right time kind of guy,” Raymond said. “That kid is a very opportunistic player, and he’s good in early offensive sets. Plus, he’s great off-ball too.”The sophomore capped off his three-goal second quarter with a pass from Paolo Ciferri in transition. Solomon faked a shot as three defenders converged. Knowing he’d get hit, Solomon ripped a shot past Brown.What happened after was left unclear, though Desko said Solomon talked trash to the opposition. The following quarter, Solomon re-entered and forced a turnover. He picked up the ground ball and, despite taking a hit, remained on his feet, charged toward the goal and scored.“Nate was pretty courageous,” Desko said. “He put himself in some situations off dodges where he knew he was going to get hit, but he held his poise the finish the ball.”As it did last year, Syracuse pulled away from Hobart down the stretch. With 8:52 left, Hobart scored to pull within three. The rest of the game was all Syracuse, which ended on a 4-1 run that dominated possession.Holding onto a safe lead and the clock winding down, the Orange sent out its backups. Dom Madonna replaced Evan Molloy, who made 17 saves in net, while the third midfield line made an appearance and added a goal — a Riley O’Sullivan score with 38.5 seconds remaining.After the game, Ryan Simmons ran over to grab the trophy named partially after his great grandfather. The rest of the team surrounded Simmons in celebration. In the middle of the sea of Orange stood Solomon and Mariano, the duo that contributed on 65 percent of SU’s goals.The teams’ 103rd matchup ended like many before it. And the Kraus-Simmons trophy will spend its fourth year in a row in Syracuse.CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this post, the number of years that Syracuse and Hobart have competed for the Kraus-Simmons trophy, since the second matchup, was unclear. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

When might the Angels start letting Shohei Ohtani pitch and hit in the same game?

first_imgANAHEIM – Shohei Ohtani the pitcher lowered his earned-run average to 3.58 on Sunday. He allowed only one run over 6 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins, but didn’t factor into the decision.If only he had Shohei Ohtani the hitter to provide run support. Ohtani is batting .348 with five home runs in 20 games (17 starts) as the Angels’ designated hitter.So far, the Angels’ decision-makers have been content to let Ohtani bat four days a week, resting him entirely the day before and after he pitches. On the days he does pitch, there has been no talk of sacrificing the designated hitter and letting Ohtani bat for himself.Until Sunday. It so happens that May 13 this year is Mother’s Day. Trout is batting .318 with three walks, a home run, two runs, three RBI, and a stolen base in his career on Mother’s Day. It was also a Sunday, Ohtani’s day to pitch, so the Angels removed another middle-of-the-lineup regular and put him on the mound.Trout had started every game this season. He had played all but two innings in the field in May. Trout’s day off had nothing to do with a slide into third base Saturday night, Scioscia said, and everything to do with sticking to a plan.“When a guy needs a day off you have to give it to him,” Scioscia said. “Certainly the health of not only Mike but all our players is paramount. We just don’t have that much depth that we absorb losing guys for extended periods of time. There are days that when Shohei’s not going to swing the bat that some other guys have the day off and you’re not going to have the lineup as deep as you could, but it’s something that needs to be done.”Trout entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning.CALHOUN BATS SECONDWith Trout out, Scioscia penciled in a surprising name in the No. 2 spot in his lineup: Kole CalhounCalhoun hadn’t batted higher than eighth since April, and not for no reason. He entered the game with a .143 batting average this month (4 for 28) and just two walks, but Scioscia said that Calhoun’s at-bats have recently improved.“I remember talking to Joe Maddon about this a long time ago, Mickey (Hatcher): sometimes when a guy’s struggling, move him up in the lineup just see if he can’t shake the tree a little bit,” Scioscia said.Calhoun went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.ALSOMatt Shoemaker will meet with a nerve specialist in Missouri on Tuesday, Scioscia said. The pitcher’s throwing program was shut down in light of the results of an electromyogram on his right forearm Monday. … Scioscia called on right-hander Keynan Middleton to pitch the eighth inning, when the Twins sent two left-handed hitters and a switch hitter to the plate. The one left-hander in the Angels’ bullpen, Jose Alvarez, was not available except as a “last resort,” Scioscia said. … Alvarez hasn’t pitched since a 22-pitch appearance Thursday and is not injured, but Scioscia said “there’s a fatigue factor involved.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error TROUT OUTMay 13 was circled on the calendar as a day off for Mike Trout, and the Angels’ center fielder knew it when he arrived at the ballpark.Related Articles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield “We have considered that scenario,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Obviously you’d like him to hit in your lineup, but not to have a DH in your lineup really gives you a tactical disadvantage. If he got a blister in the second inning, or if his pitch count got up and he was done after five innings, right now our bench isn’t deep enough to be able to play a National League game.”If an American League team allows the pitcher to bat for himself, by rule there can be no designated hitter for the remainder of the game. The Angels currently have 12 position players on their active roster, not including Ohtani. If Ohtani batted for himself, Scioscia would have only four position players to choose from to bat for the pitcher. That might not change between now and Aug. 31.On Sept. 1, teams are allowed to expand their active rosters from 25 to 40. The Angels could add to their bench without subtracting someone from their active pitching staff.Sign up for Home Turf and get 3 exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.So, Scioscia said, letting Ohtani bat for himself “is something we might consider in September if it was something that was really critical and we needed his bat in our lineup.”The manager also left open the possibility that Ohtani could bat in a National League park, but the Angels have just eight interleague games remaining on the road: July 13-15 at Dodger Stadium, Aug. 13-15 at Petco Park in San Diego and Aug. 21-22 at Chase Field in Phoenix. Ohtani didn’t start either Tuesday or Wednesday at Coors Field in Denver.center_img Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Mike Trout, with bat and glove, helps Angels end losing streak Clippers, Mavericks brace for the unknown in Game 4 Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros last_img read more