Defending The Pitch

Oct. 15, 2009

By Mark Morgan
The UW Daily

A vocal leader on the pitch and a well-rounded student-athlete on campus, junior defender Taylor Mueller is not simply a standout soccer player for the Washington Huskies. Mueller is a student-athlete who enjoys spending down time with friends and immersing himself in what life has to offer.

Mueller is a sociology major, and like most students, he can recall the difficult academic transition between high school and college.

'Unfortunately, my first year didn't go so well academically,' Mueller said, 'so I had to pick up the slack last year and this year. It's going a lot better, though.'

With little time to spare between soccer and the classroom, the Sammamish, Wash., native claims that his social life is comprised of 'playing poker, watching movies, and being lazy in the downtime' with roommate and sophomore defender Jamie Finch.

'Every once in a while, it's nice to go out,' Mueller said, 'but I pretty much just spend time at the apartment.'

After being pursued out of high school by several schools, the junior can recall narrowing his list down to five universities. However, none of them could provide the comfort of home that the UW could.

'Family is a big thing for me,' Mueller said. 'I'm from right across 520, from Sammamish. So I had been [at Washington] when I was younger, always went to the Husky games when I was a little kid. So I remember what it was like,'

Family is so important to Mueller, he said, that his parents, Patti and Tom, attend every Husky soccer game, even on the road.

'They were even at the California games to support me, too,' Mueller said. 'That's a big part.'

Being at the UW is about more than family, though, and that's something Mueller appreciates. His favorite thing about Washington is the way the university treats its athletes.

'I know a lot of people hear it, but they really pamper us. I mean, everything is real nice, pre-game and game stuff, all of our gear that we get,' Mueller said.

The school not only supplies the team with proper equipment, but also proper training around the clock.

'[I like] the way that we can go into the weight room whenever we want, or schedule an appointment,' Mueller said. 'Even when it comes to health-care stuff, everything that you could want taken care of for you, is.'

Washington has surprised many with its undefeated Pac-10 record. At 1-0-3, the Huskies are in position to contend for a conference title, having tied and defeated both teams that lie ahead of them in the standings: No. 6 Cal and No. 4 UCLA.

Although Mueller's effort is hard to quantify in statistics, he is easily the most vocal player on the field, shouting encouragement to his teammates or protesting a call to a referee. This vocal leadership molds well with a team that is still fairly young, with a few veterans sprinkled into the mix.

Being vocal on defense is essential, Mueller said.

'As a center back, I can see the whole field, and I feel like it's my responsibility to keep our defense as tight as possible to prevent any goals,' Mueller said. 'Communication is key when we are trying not to concede goals.'

Also key has been the tutelage of head coach Dean Wurzberger.

'Dean is a weathered and proven coach that can really guide me to the next level that I want to make it to,' Mueller said. 'As a head coach, he pushes for a strong point on defensive structure and strength, which really helps me as a center back.'

Mueller was pretty close to that next level this past summer when he was scheduled to train with some professional teams. But a broken foot held him back.

Still, he remains optimistic that he can make it back to where he was before, when he had workouts scheduled with the Seattle Sounders.

'Hopefully this coming summer, I'll be able to train a little bit and get in a couple of sessions with the Sounders,' Mueller said.

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