Thursday, December 14, 2006

More on Alex Cunliffe

Alex Cunliffe found out at 2:00 AM that he had been selected for the MLS Combine.

"I was asleep and my teammate and dear friend Tom Skara called me a couple times to wake me up. He was the first one to tell me about it and was quite silly about it. He wouldn't tell me what was going on just to go on the computer." said Cunliffe, "I checked out the MLS website and it was congratulating the people selected, so I was chuffed and a little tired, but happy none the less. So thanks to Tom Skara." Cunliffe said with a laugh.

Cunliffe's coach, Carl Rees, believes that Cunliffe has the ability to play at the next level.

“He has the size and technical ability and he also has a insatiable appetite for competition and the game of soccer,” said Rees, “The biggest challenge for a lot of players making the transition from college to the pros to perform everyday in training. Alex’s hunger and commitment will help him with this challenge.”

Sophomore Kerr McLeod who was not surprised that his teammates was selected for the combine said, "“Coming from England, Alex knows the standard for professional soccer; therefore, there is no question in my mind that he will approach this opportunity with pride and conviction while representing Fairfield honorably."

Freshman forward Paul McQuade agreed with McLeod.

“In my opinion he has been our best player this year, not only with his ability but his determination and drive to win,” McQuade said, “There were games throughout the year where he grabbed the team by the scruff of the neck and lead us to victory. Because of this attitude I think he has a great shot at making it as a pro.”

McLeod believes that through the team and Cunliffe’s success, the Fairfield soccer program will continue to keep growing.

“For a program, any acolades or honorably recognition shows not only potential recruits, but our peers and faculty the dedication and passion that we designate to soccer outside the classroom,” McLeod said, “ I think because of our exemplory year led by players like Alex has given the team a foundation for years to come.”

Both McQuade and McLeod have played at the international level for their home countries, Scotland and Canada respectively, as Cunliffe did as well. The two both have aspirations of playing pro soccer as well and seeing Cunliffe receive the opportunity will serve as motivation for them.

“To have played with Alex has been a great experience, and I hope I can eventually get the chance to play at a higher level, like he has done,” McQuade said, “He has left me and the other guys with some hard footsteps to follow, but everyone in the team, especially myself is determined to carry on from last season and make the following seasons a success.”

“To play professionally, one has to play outside their comfort threshold and be tested daily, for this reason, I am thankful that as a program we are moving forward, which helps me as an individual player and the team grow stronger,” said McLeod.

Cunliffe will now have to work hard to prepare for the challenge of competing against the nation’s best. He knows it will be tough, but believes that with hard work he can accomplish his goal.

“There’ll be a lot of quality players at the combine, but I’m coming off my personal season and hopefully I can carry that into the combine,” Cunliffe said, “I will be working hard with my coaches and teammates to make sure I’m in the best shape going into the combine to do my best to do well.”

Rees, who played professional soccer following his career at Hartwick, will help Cunliffe prepare.

“Alex needs to get as fit as possible and work hard in training once he gets there. He needs to be prepared for a big challenge but he should remember that he has talent and should not lose faith in himself,” said Rees.

Cunliffe is definitely ready for the challenge, but knows he still has a lot of work in front of him. “There is a long way to go, but with a lot of hard work and maybe a little bit of luck, who knows what could happen.”


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