Doing the dirty work
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
The summer months are a time to relax, a time to unwind from a busy school year. It’s a time to hit the beach and enjoy those moments with friends and family. For others, the summer is a time to grind and get better. It’s a time to put the work in so you can get yourself to the next level.
For University of Rhode Island soccer player Max Kwitchoff he used his summer to work ion his game, so when he got back to campus in the fall he was ready to make a sudden impact. One way for the Tonawanda native to get better was by playing for FC Buffalo.
FC Buffalo had exactly what Kwitchoff needed. it allowed his to work on his game, while competing against some of the top players in the country. That kind of experience was beneficial for the sophomore midfielder as he went back to college.
“Last summer I trained a little bit with FC Buffalo, but this past summer I wanted to get really more involved,” stated Kwitchoff. “I was really excited to finally come in and get some big minutes with the team. I love playing for the city, and love playing with the rest of the boys from Buffalo. It’s really been a good time.”
Coming into the summer, Kwitchoff knew he was going to be one of the younger player, not just on the team, but in the league. He knew he was going to have to grow a little quicker, especially if he wanted to compete against some of the older competition.
If there is one thing Kwitchoff didn’t do over the summer was shy away from anyone. He showed why he has a very bright future playing in the midfield for URI. He held his own over the summer and was one of the bright spot for FC Buffalo.
“I think I have progressed a lot,” stated Kwitchoff. “I know coming (into the summer) I was one of the younger players on the team. “It was really a challenge to step up to the level of the strength and speed of the older guys. I think I did well, I think it helped me prepare really well for the upcoming fall season with Rhode Island.”
Playing against different type of player is never a bad thing. It helps a player recognize his strengths and weakness, and to see what he may have to approve on. It’s not like this is the first time that Kwitchoff has played against elite competition.
The St. Joseph’s Colleghiate Institute grad has been doing that his entire life. He was a mainstay at St. Joe’s, and played his club soccer with Empire United - where was captain of the U19 team, and ranked 124th in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.
“(Playing over the summer) definitely taught me to play faster, stronger” stated Kwitchoff. “These older guys have a lot more experience than me, so they have taught me to play fast and be strong.”
Kwitchoff wanted to use his summer to get a jump start on the fall. Last fall, a s a freshman, Kwitchoff say the field for 13 games, and one start. While he got into a bunch of games, noir starting was something that he wasn’t used to. He has a been a starter wherever he has gone, and wanted to come into his sophomore season ready to compete.
This season, Kwitchoff has started seven games, while getting into all 16 played (as a press time). He even scored his first collegiate goal, a game-winner, against Fairfield earlier in the year.
“I have been really excited for this upcoming season,” stated Kwitchoff. “Last year, I got a decent amount of minutes, but being able to play over the summer allowed to me have a break though this year. I have been able to get quality minutes, and quality starts - and was able to be a big factor on the team.”
As much athletes have realized coming from high school and making that next jump is never easy. Because you were the biggest star on your high school team ,i doesn’t mean that will transfer over to the next level.
For some, that’s the biggest obstacle to overcome. Not being the star player like you were in high school. Being able to see, and recognize that, will help an athlete as they continue their athletic careers.
Kwitchoff knew coming in that he wasn’t going to be the star player. It’s that mindset that has helped him so far in his college career. He has come in to Rhode Island just grinding everyday, proving that he belongs with the best players in the country.
“The biggest transition for me, personally, was accepting that you are not going to be the star player,” stated Kwitchoff. “Coming from St. Joe’s and Empire, I’m used to playing almost every minute of every game. When you play at the collegiate level everyone is that same quality. So, it’s about keep going and pushing forward - and maintaining that same level. Eventually, you will break though and get those minutes you have been working for.”
Getting those minutes is never easy, especially playing the position Kwitchoff plays. While some hate playing in the midfield because of all the running that is involved, Kwitchoff loves it. He loves the compete factor that goes in with playing the midfield position.
Whether it’s playing a holding midfield position, to moving up to attack, Kwitchoff has a high soccer IQ to perform well at both positions. You will see his during game going over there and making the crushing tackle to get the ball back, or he will be up there scoring the game-winner against Fairfield.
The midfield is where his game is and seeing his attack that position is something to watch.
“Personally, I love playing midfield. I know some people hate it for all the running, but that kind of what I love the most,” stated Kwitchoff. “II just love getting on the ball, and creating. I like doing the silent work that no one else does. I have never been a big goal scorer, but I love doing that dirty work. Running box-to-box, winning balls, and winning those 50/50. It’s work that nobody really sees, but without it the team wouldn’t be really able to function. It’s something that I always strive for, winning those dirty battles - and keep working.”