Niagara Gazette

Sports

October 5, 2012

No 'Grey' area for unbeaten Niagara

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — “Our entire backline has stepped up and Jacob has been fantastic,” Brooks said, citing a Willis Reed-moment for Ohlin during a particularly stressful match. “Honestly, we probably shouldn’t have put him on the field but we needed him to go in and settle down the game.”

The Purple Eagles .871 save percentage ranks No. 9 out of 205 D-I teams and their .82 goals against average is 37th. Brooks gives loads of credit to Illinois netminder Brett Petricek, a technically sound keeper who is also capable of the brilliant game-saver.

They will need it versus Loyola, who has a number of extremely dangerous offensive weapons. Beyond diminutive German striker Larry Ndjock is Northern Ireland’s Stephen Dooley, who upon return from injury has compiled three goals and three assists in just four games. Also of local and national note, Orchard Park freshman Jordan Dilapo is a back-up keeper for Loyola and Major League Soccer legend Zach Thornton is the Greyhounds goalkeeper coach.

So there’s a task ahead of Niagara as one of eight undefeated men’s Division I teams in the nation. So rather than push his team during a two-week layoff, Brooks relented a bit.

“The first nine games were very strenuous,” Brooks said. “We’ve got injuries and I’ve actually taken my foot off the gas. To push now would take away from what we have accomplished, and would not allow them that slight mental and physical break they need to get refocused.”

Refocusing helps but the time off also allows for a lot of analysis. Sitting at 6-0-3 has forced Brooks to prepare for every potential eventuality.

“I’ve gone through every scenario in my head a million times,” he said. “I’ve thought about winning every game from here on out. I’ve thought about losing every game from here on out. We’re always focused on the next game, but we have to be building toward something. We have to be ready to react to anything that’s thrown at us in between.”

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