By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
When their season finally ends, athletes have more time to do other things. Some get jobs; others go through internships. And some play basketball.
This was the case for eight members of the University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s soccer team.
And it turns out they are pretty good.
FC Basketball — a team consisting of members from the men’s soccer team — won the UM-Dearborn’s intramural basketball championship this semester by defeating Team Heisenberg, 48-44.
Kosai Zaya, Michael Masserant, Chris Porreca, John Mertic, Iris Mesic, Richard Hodnicki, Alek Vasilevski and Zack Lefebvre made up the championship squad.
This wasn’t something the guys decided to do during the soccer season. After a tough playoff loss last year, Zaya said this season was highly anticipated.
“We played last year but we lost in the playoffs,” Zaya said. “So we felt like we had unfinished business. We’ve been waiting for a while.”
According to Zaya, the team went 7-2 during the regular season and lost both of their games in overtime, including one in double overtime.
Zaya said the team wanted to move the ball like a soccer team and “get out and run,” which created a ‘soccer players only’ format.
By winning the championship, it seems as if the strategy paid off. Mesic gave a reasoning for why their soccer tactics worked on the hardwood.
“It would space out the floor and we would be able to get easy open shots,” he said.
During the championship game, FC Basketball got into an early hole trailing Heisenberg 11-2. Hodnicki said once his team increased the tempo of the game, the tables started to turn.
“As soccer players we like fast pace, so we really wanted to speed up the tempo,” Hodnicki said. “We ran the floor whenever possible trying to get fast breaks, which is really what won us the game.”
FC Basketball would normally go with a “three guards and two bigs” lineup, with the offense usually running through Lefebvre.
They were not a team centered around one player. Zaya expressed that everyone contributed and their greatest strength was defense.
“(We’re) pretty well rounded. Everyone plays great defense,” Zaya said. “Some guys score, others rebound, but we do kind of play with set positions.”
Hodnicki and Mertic were the only two players on the team with varsity high school basketball experience. The rest of the team had some sort of basketball background, with some playing at the junior varsity level and others in middle school.
When asked if he’d rather face a potential game winning free throw or penalty kick, Hodnicki said he would elect to stay with the sport he is most comfortable with.
“I would feel more pressure on a penalty kick because there’s a chance the goalie can save it, so it’s not just up to you,” Hodnicki said. “On a free throw it’s all on you. If you miss it’s because you messed up. So I would feel more pressure on a penalty kick, but I would rather shoot a penalty kick to win the game because I feel more comfortable on a soccer field.”
Zaya explained that while his team was happy to win, the sight of champagne bottles popping and confetti dropping from the Fieldhouse ceiling wasn’t found on the FC Basketball sideline after the game.
“Honestly, we were all pretty bummed that it was over,” Zaya said. “We wanted to play more. Nobody wanted the season to end.”
While the team hasn’t released an official statement saying it, it sounds as if FC Basketball is calling out for new challengers for next season as they plan to return to defend their title.
“We’re already counting down the days,” Zaya said. “Hopefully people read this and join the league next year.”