Mauro Fuzetti ranks second on the Michigan men’s soccer team in one of the offensive categories.

Sarah Royce
Freshman Mauro Fuzetti is contributing steadily during his first year with three assists, just one off the team lead. (PETER SCHOTTENFELS/Daily)

But it’s not exactly the category the freshman had in mind coming into his first year as a Wolverine.

Fuzetti is second on the team in assists, tallying three in the first half of the season – just one behind team leader sophomore Steve Bonnell. But the Houston native came to Michigan expecting to be a scorer, not an assist man.

“(Being a goal scorer) was my role before coming to Michigan,” Fuzetti said. “That is why it’s been so frustrating – coming from being that guy that the team depends on to score and then only getting one goal so far. But hopefully that will change soon.”

At Stratford High School in Houston, Fuzetti was a three-time team MVP and clearly the go-to guy for offense.

Even though Fuzetti has notched just a single goal this season for Michigan, it could not have come at a better time. The rookie scored Michigan’s first goal against No. 14 Kentucky on Sept. 13. Fuzetti’s early goal proved vital, as Michigan went on to upset Kentucky in overtime, 2-1.

Fuzetti described the upset victory as his best experience of the season so far.

But since then, Fuzetti has yet to convert, and instead is finding himself to be the key No. 2 man. (He assisted both goals in Michigan’s 2-0 victory against Northern Illinois on Sept. 1).

Even though Fuzetti would like to find the back of the net more often, his selfless attitude puts the team’s interests above his own.

“I love scoring, who doesn’t?” Fuzetti said. “But if I contribute by getting assists,

then I’ll do that too.”

One of the other players Fuzetti often looks to find for a key pass is fellow freshman Peri Marosevic. Already tallying an assist on one of Marosevic’s team-leading five goals, Fuzetti seems to have found a partner in crime in the other rookie forward. Marosevic even said that Fuzetti motivates him to make something happen for the Michigan offense.

Similarly, Fuzetti has found a counterpart in Marosevic – the tandem is often seen leading the Wolverine attack up the field toward the opponent’s net.

“I guess you could say we are a duo,” Fuzetti said. “We like to work together. We’re together everyday, almost the whole day. That helps off the field also.”

After having taken a total of 20 shots – seven of them on goal – so far this season, Fuzetti has been unable to find his shooting form. Often, the freshman gets a clear look at the goal, but gives too much leg and lifts the ball just over the net.

While he is working through his scoring jitters, Fuzetti has contributed in other, perhaps less likely, ways. Having started in the majority of the games so far this year, Fuzetti is not only an offensive weapon but a key defenseman as well.

“(Coming into Michigan), defending was my biggest concern,” Fuzetti said. “But I think I have contributed. I’ve gotten a lot better since I have been here. It’s helped the team out a lot, especially on the left flank.”

Michigan coach Steve Burns echoed Fuzetti’s thoughts on his defensive improvement.

“We knew Mauro was a talented, attack-minded player when we recruited him,” Burns said. “But we didn’t know if he had the personality to command a position on the team. We were also concerned about his defensive ability. But he has responded to those challenges.”

After two consecutive scoreless contests, Fuzetti and the Wolverines return to the U-M Soccer Field looking to strike gold against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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