Through 16 games, one of the leading scorers for the Cardinals has been junior Garrett Grunke with 10 points (4 goals and 2 assists) on just 17 shots.
That’s a bunch of points, especially for someone that didn’t play offense last year. Grunke moved from defender to midfielder this year and that move has helped SMU Men’s Soccer team move into contention for a playoff spot. He said that being moved to midfielder was a welcome change because he’s “back at my natural position.”
Grunke said that his new position has enabled him to “attack the middle of the field and create scoring opportunities.” In addition to creating chances for his teammates, Grunke is tied for the team lead with 4 goals. He credits his “knack of making runs to open areas” as one of the main reasons for his success.
However, as a midfielder, he’s also asked to play defense at times. Grunke said that his experience playing defense last year has helped him become a “two-way player.” When playing defense, he takes pride in “cutting off [the opposing team’s] passes in the middle.” Grunke also noted that being tall (6’1”) gives him an advantage when competing for headers.
Assistant Coach Joe Tadie said that Grunke is “a great team player.” As evidence Tadie pointed to a recent game in which Grunke trusted another teammate to take a penalty kick even though a conversion would have put him among the top scorers in the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference).
Tadie also commended Grunke for “not taking it personally” when he’s asked to play a different position. One example of this, according to Tadie, was when Grunke didn’t complain about playing defense in the first half against the University of St.Thomas.
However, Grunke said there’s still room for improvement. He said that the team could a better job of “staying compact on defense.” The coaches also emphasize that point as one of their favorite mantras is “if they don’t score, we can’t lose,” according to Grunke.
Staying compact on defense will be even more important as SMU’s season enters the home stretch. The Cardinals have two games left and they’re in a tough competition with Saint John’s and Hamline for the final playoff spot. SMU’s next and final home game is Saturday, October 29, at 3:30pm against Carleton College.