Co-captains. Defensemen. Roommates.
Meet the two Kevins of the Michigan men’s soccer team.
Seniors Kevin Hall and Kevin Savitske have been playing together for four years, making their way to co-captainship in their final year, along with senior Brian Popeney. Just as the defensive duo demonstrates its on-field chemistry in the backfield, the tandem of “Hallsy” and “Ske” are the closest of friends off the field as well – even when it comes to carpooling.
“Ske gives me a ride to class every once in awhile,” Hall said, nudging his roommate and suggesting that he hopes the “free rides” keep on coming.
Jokes aside, the friendship between these two has translated into the highest quality of joint leadership.
“We are together on and off the field, 24-7,” Hall said. “We have a pretty good partnership going
on. Hopefully, we can lead this team to some more Big Ten wins.”
Underclassmen dominate this year’s roster, and the captains have had to shoulder the responsibility of showing them the ropes. The captains also helped the newcomers quickly adapt into starting positions in their first year of Big Ten competition.
“We are a very young team,” Savitske said. “Our role is to lead them, teach them what their mistakes are and hope that they learn as the season goes so they get better.”
With Michigan playing with a one-man disadvantage after sophomore Michael Holody earned a red card in last Sunday’s 1-1 doubleheader against Michigan State, the senior leaders shouldered an additional burden to compensate for being shorthanded. Though both Hall and Savitske are listed as defensemen, Michigan c=oach Steve Burns had the duo play offense too.
But the co-captains see these dual responsibilities as inherent to their role as team leaders.
“In any game, (playing offense and defense) are both of our roles,” Savitske said. “With a man down (on Sunday), we definitely had more responsibilities on our shoulders.”
Although both captains share the same position and first name, their leadership styles are night-and-day.
“Hall is a real good on-field leader and also good in the locker room,” Burns said. “Savitske was a walk-on player that grabbed a significant role midway through his freshman season and never relinquished that role. You can see him try to dominate and take over games and make differences. (Other players) see Savitske and respond to how he plays.”
Hall, the more vocal leader who is in his second year as co-captain, certainly has leadership in his blood – his brother is the captain of the Michigan State hockey team. On the other hand, Savitske prefers to lead by example in his first stint as co-captain.
Even with their contrasting leadership styles, both seniors share the same realistic expectations to cap off their final year wearing maize and blue.
“Our goal is whatever is the best that this team can reach for – whether that is a Big Ten title, an NCAA Tournament appearance or just winning games,” Savitske said. “We just hope for the best that we can do.”
Though a five-game winless streak currently plagues the Wolverines (0-1-2 Big Ten, 5-6-3 overall), both Michigan natives could not imagine playing anywhere else.
“It’s the best school in the country,” Hall said.
The co-captains look to snap the skid during this weekend’s road trip. The Wolverines will face off against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday at 7 p.m. and return to Big Ten play against Northwestern at 2 p.m. on Sunday.