King of Both Worlds
Oct. 20, 2001
by Steve Hitchcock
To be an effective leader, one must be ready to strive to be the best at every aspect of their game. They must lead their team through highs and lows, always trying to elevate the team's performance. This is exactly the role played by Husky midfielder Ben Somoza.
'He's not only a role model as a player, but also a person,' says fellow midfielder C.J. Klaas. 'He's a hard worker and a great guy who gets along with the whole team.'
As one of the captains of this year's team, Somoza has set his goals highs and is determined to help raise his team's play to the next level.
'Whatever it takes to do as a team, I just want our team to come out and make a Final Four,' says the 6-foot, 170-pound senior from Edmonds, Wash. 'We're looking to make a longer run in the playoffs, that's a long term goal. We won't settle for anything less.'
Ranked in the top-10 almost from the season's start, Washington upset defending national champion Connecticut on the road to send a notice that this year's team is determined to continue the winning tradition established in head coach Dean Wurzberger's 10 seasons with the Huskies. Washington has earned six-consecutive post-season appearances and three consecutive conference championships, including the inaugural Pac-10 title in 2000.
Somoza has played a major role in Washington's recent string of conference titles.
'Ben can do a lot of things for us, he's a force offensively,' Wurzberger says. 'His re-start service and his long throws are a factor, and he's an experienced attacking midfield player. He continues to make his presence known, and that's what we've come to expect from him.'
The fact that Somoza has come out of the gate firing this season, tallying two goals and four assists in the Huskies first seven games to lead the team in scoring, comes as no surprise given his track record at Washington. Somoza has led the team in assists for two years running, and has been one of the Huskies' most aggressive players around the goal. He has also proven durable, having played in every game since the beginning of his sophomore year. Somoza also takes the majority of the team's throw ins and corner kicks.
'He's got a lot of experience, and I've learned quite a bit from him,' says Klaas, a highly-regarded freshman whom Somoza has taken under his wing. 'We've got pretty good communication in the midfield too. He does more of the attacking and I sit back and defend.'
As good as an offensive player as he can be, Somoza must be just as good at defending, since a midfielder is required to make plays at both ends of the field.
'You have to be a leader on the field,' he says. 'I play in the midfield, so I play a lot of offense, a lot of defense. You have to be a king of both worlds.'
This summer, Somoza and his teammates had the chance to go overseas to England and play matches against professional teams from that area. The team lost just once in five games, finishing 1-1-3, and held their own with reserves from many of England's top teams.
'It was definitely an eye-opener,' Somoza says. 'It was great to get together as a team and experience the atmosphere out in England. It was also good to get early games in, that's why we've had a strong start.'
Somoza's playing ability was evident even before he enrolled at Washington. As a senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School, he was honored as Seattle Times North End Player of the Year. In addition, Somoza also played for the under-23 amateur National Team that competed in the U.S. Amateur Sports Festival.
Somoza's leadership and experience is reflected not only in his stats, but in the trust and respect he receives from his teammates. With a strong midfield leader like Somoza, there is no telling how far this year's team can advance.