The Wolfpacker

September 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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times, philosophy is established. It takes time to make that transition, and W it does not always benefit everyone. Vet- erans of the old regime may struggle to adapt. But for some players, a change can help them flourish. ■ PREVIEW MEN'S SOCCER Such was the case last fall for junior forward Nazmi Albadawi of the Wolfpack men's soccer team. Albadawi's background with NC State runs deep. The son of Palestinian immi- grants, he worships at a mosque across the street from NC State's old soccer stadium on Method Road. "We used to climb the fence and play at Method Road," Albadawi recalled. That's when former State soccer coach George Tarantini would chase them off the field. "We had to sneak away and back into our mosque," Albadawi noted. "We did that all the time." Albadawi doubted that Tarantini remem- bered that when he recruited and ultimately signed Albadawi out of Athens Drive High in Raleigh. Albadawi was not a tough sell. Having grown up in Raleigh, he always wanted to play for the Wolfpack. But in 2010, Albadawi was taking time to adjust to a different playing style used by Tarantini than the possession-oriented style that Albadawi had his most experience and comfort-level playing. "I like to have the ball at my feet. Under Coach Tarantini, it was completely differ- ent," Albadawi said. "We were defending the entire time." An injury also did not help Albadawi's chances of getting on the field, and he did not play at all in 2010. Then Tarantini stepped down after the season and was replaced by Kelly Findley, who had built a nationally respected program at Butler. Findley changed a lot of things when he arrived, including the playing style and culture. "Tarantini definitely has a lot of charac- ter," Albadawi said. "He's a real outgoing guy, a real fun guy. Findley is a bit more serious, which is better for us. We are head- ing the right way now. It's more soccer based. The whole team is headed in the right direction. "It was definitely more beneficial to me. [Findley] wanted to be a more possession- 76 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER hen there is a coaching change, especially when the hire is brought in from outside the program, a new culture and, at oriented team. It was hard for him to put his own style in last year. We didn't have players that were used to playing posses- sion-oriented soccer." Both Albadawi and Findley, though, have seen a noticeable shift between last year and the present. Albadawi called it a night-and-day difference. It started with the team's fitness test, which 20 of 26 players passed on their first try. "I think once you get your program the way you want it to be and the standards are high, that becomes understood that every- He's a team guy, wants everybody to do well, always looking to make everyone around him better, but his quality on the field has been tremendous. He does some stuff that I've never seen anyone do." Albadawi is one of three captains. He is joined by Sonny Mukungu, a redshirt soph- omore defender, and Jorge Risquez, a ju- nior midfielder. Risquez started six games last year and had a goal and an assist. Mukungu's return from an injury could TRANSITION Nazmi Albadawi's Development Is A Positive Sign For The Pack MAKING THE Sophomore Midfielder body passes," Findley stated. "But I think for being a second year to have that large of a group passing right away says a lot about the progress that the program has made." Findley, while noting that coaches are always impatient, knows that it takes time to establish a roster that will embrace his philosophy, which stresses work ethic and an attention to detail. "We're probably right where we thought we'd be, growing a lot as a group, excited about this year, and just looking to focus on the next game," he stated. The team is hoping that the late-season surge of Albadawi last year will continue. He scored seven of State's final 10 goals in 2011 and finished the season with nine overall. A midseason pep talk from former player and grad assistant Ronnie Bouem- boue helped get Albadawi started. "I was creating stuff, I just couldn't score," Albadawi said. "In my head I was like, 'What's going on?' Ronnie sat me down, talked to me, and said that the first goal is going to come. "I started gaining confidence more and more. Having that confidence made me a completely different player. It's carried on." "All the credit goes to him," Findley said. "He put the work in, and now his fitness level allows him to use the technique that he's always had. It's Nazmi's discipline and focus that enables him to do what he does. "He's a captain for all the right reasons. team Freshman All-American by Colleg-, but he missed almost all of last season with an injury. Findley has not settled on any lineups, focusing mainly on finding the right com- binations, but some talented pieces return to the Pack after the team went 7-11-2 overall and 2-6 in league action in 2011. Sophomore forward Zabarle Kollie, who scored two goals and added four assists last year, was rated as the No. 80 freshman in the country by last year. Kollie's classmate, forward Monbo Bokar, scored against then-No. 1 Mary- land last fall and added two assists dur- ing the season. The defense returns regu- lars Gbenga Makinde, a junior, and Morit Steidten, a senior. Junior goalkeeper Fabian Otte, who started 19 of 20 games last year, is also back, although he faces a challenge from redshirt freshman Joe Mills. For Albadawi, however, the biggest rea- son for optimism is an all-in attitude on the team. "Everyone is together," he said. "We are all headed in the same direction, which is bring State back to the old days. I've never been on a team that is as driven, as moti- vated, as the one I am on now." ■ Albadawi scored seven of State's final 10 goals last year and finished the season with nine overall. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS be a boost for the Pack. He was tabbed as an All-ACC freshman in 2010 and a third-

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