SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After an undefeated spring campaign, Santa Clara's Phillip Muscarella (Camarillo, Calif./Newbury Park), took the time to answer a few questions from SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB). The Southern California product breaks down what the offseason is like for a Bronco student-athlete, some of his favorite players, and what it takes to succeed at this level.
Muscarella (PM) immediately became a key player upon his arrival at Santa Clara, starting at forward in SCU's 2011 NCAA tournament first round match as a true freshman. He made 12 starts as a sophomore in 2012, helping SCU post the WCC's best overall record (11-5-4). Muscarella is expected to make the move to the back line as a junior this fall.
SCB: You guys went undefeated during the 2012 spring season against teams like Stanford, San Jose State, Sunderland's U18 side … were you happy with the results?
PM: An undefeated spring season is a big feat for us because we had lost a lot of key guys in our lineup and a lot of gaps in our lineup we had to try and fill. With the good sides we faced we were able to see how we matched up, make adjustments and work on our game. Though we still have a lot of work to do, especially this summer because guys need to stay fit and come in ready for the fall, we had a productive spring season. A number of new guys gained experience and overall our team moved forward, and that is always the goal each day.
SCB: The program does quite a bit during the spring, practicing most every day, training, playing games, hosting the fundraiser and alumni game, doing community service … how do you handle the offseason schedule?
PM: The offseason for us is brutal, we have a lot going on and at times it can get very hard to manage it all, but in the long run it is all worth it. School, training and lifting are all big components to our daily routines; but when you mix in all the other responsibilities, things can get messy. You just have to do a good job managing your time, because after all, the fundraisers only benefit us and doing community service is a great opportunity to give back to the community and inspire kids. I remember when I was young; having someone to look up to and help me was much appreciated.
SCB: You and your teammates have started volunteering with the Bay Area After-School All-Stars program. Talk about what you guys do with the young players.
PM: After-School All-Stars was a new program that we decided to help with because it is a good way to give back to underprivileged kids and give them some hope and guidance in life. It is a good feeling. We would just do fun basic little drills to get the kids exercising and having fun. The whole point was not necessarily to develop their soccer skills, but to just be outside having fun and be a positive influence.
SCB: As one of the top returning players, your versatility had you moving from the midfield to the back line this spring. Talk about that transition and what you think you will be called upon to do this fall.
PM: My coaches in the past have always told me if I was going to go anywhere with soccer it would be in the right back position. Now that Mykell Bates - one of the top defenders in the country - has left that position, I have been called upon to fill that role. It's the spot I love the most and feel most comfortable, while also contributing to my teammates the most. I take great pride in being back there because you cannot be a great team without a defense. Defense wins championships.
SCB: Now that the spring season is over, how will you be spending your off time? Will you be taking some down time to recharge/reflect on the year?
PM: Now that the spring is over it is now time for the summer. However, we all realize this is a never-ending process. You have to keep working hard, or else you will not be great. We have about two weeks to worry about just school and finals, but for us that is more than enough. We need to keep grinding and work even harder this summer.
I plan to play with a local PDL team, the Ventura County Fusion, and also with the U19 club team West Coast FC to take another stab at a national championship. I want to keep busy this summer playing as much as possible so there is only improvement when I come back for the fall. For now, I will focus on just getting through school, playing and lifting when I can, but this summer is just another development period to try and get better.
SCB: What are some of your favorite professional/national teams you follow? Who and/or what kind of players do you enjoy watching?
PM: I don't have any specific favorite teams or anything like that. I just love the game and love to watch the best teams and players in the world. Some of the best players in the world play the outside back position like Dani Alves (Barcelona), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Patrice Evra (Man. United), so I just watch them and what they do and try and relate it to my game.
SCB: Finally, what goals, if any, have you set for your upcoming junior year?
PM: I am working really hard to be the best player I can be. Personally I would like to be the guy in the back that no one wants to go against. I just want to see how hard I can work and see how good I can get and see where that takes me. Hopefully, as a team we can improve from last year defiantly cruising through the WCC as we should and deep into the playoffs. I am trying to keep myself and the team focused on just working hard making yourself better EVERYDAY and from that, good things will come. It's the little things we need to take care of everyday, like staying fit and focused this summer, so when we get back we are ready to compete at the highest levels. The little things will take you far in life and if we stay determined, dedicated and sacrifice, we will go far.