Big things are expected this season from 5-foot-6 Jake Stacy of the Michigan men’s soccer team.
The freshman hailing from Grand Rapids is one of the smallest members of the squad and hopes to assist in the development of the Wolverines’ new offense.
“Jake is a guy that can and will do a lot for us once he finds his way and goal-scoring form,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said. “It takes time. Once Jake is linked up with the new players he’s playing with, they’ll start to find him in central positions, and I think he’ll shine more.”
Stacy caught Burns’s attention after his impressive high school career at Forest Hills Central and his time with his club team, the Michigan Wolves. Burns pointed to Stacy’s hard work and his thirst for success as qualities that earned him a spot on the Wolverines’ roster. Last year, Stacy led his club team to a state championship, was placed on several All-State teams and was named Michigan’s 2004 Mr. Soccer for his work on the field.
“I think playing soccer in college is more intense than high school ball, especially in the Big Ten,” Stacy said. “It’s harder, it’s faster, and it’s stronger. It’s a big change.”
Starting at forward in Michigan’s disappointing 3-1 loss to Massachusetts on Monday, Stacy found several open looks at the net within the first five minutes of the game but came up just short of converting each time.
“I’m very honored to start for Michigan, but it’s taking a bit of time to adjust,” Stacy said. “I’m still trying to get that first goal.”
Burns pointed to several communication breakdowns between Stacy and senior Ryan Alexander that caused gaps in the field during the game. But the coach is confident that Stacy will become more comfortable as he transitions to a new team in the collegiate sphere.
“In club ball, it’s more pretty soccer,” Stacy said. “But in college ball, it’s much more physical.”
With his small stature, oftentimes players think they can push him around on the field. But Stacy is able to effectively capitalize on his assumed disadvantage. Stacy uses his size to maneuver around larger players, finding holes in many teams’ formations. As a forward, he is a key playmaker for finishing goals.
“Obviously, most players are bigger and stronger than I am, but I think that sometimes they won’t expect me to be as fast as I am,” he said.
Burns likened some aspects of Stacy’s physical presence to that of senior forward Trai Blanks, who also stands at 5-foot-6 but maintains an aggressive authority on the field.
Aside from adjusting to a new team, Stacy is learning the ropes of college life. The Michigan native is excited about his freshman year.
“I love playing for Michigan and (in) Ann Arbor,” Stacy said. “I (chose to come here because) I liked the coaches and players and had a good visit. I’ve also been a Michigan fan my whole life.”