Columbia College soccer player creates scoring opportunities for Cougars

Thursday, October 20, 2011 | 9:00 p.m. CDT; updated 10:15 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 20, 2011
Columbia College senior Dylan Barduzzi, 26, practices corner kicks on Thursday at R. Marvin Owens Soccer Field during the last practice before the two weekend games against Park and Davenport. Barduzzi has been playing soccer since he was 6 years old.

COLUMBIA — Dylan Barduzzi's coach doesn't like it when Barduzzi dribbles the ball for too long. 

Barduzzi also frustrates his teammates by constantly asking for the ball.

Friday's game

Columbia College vs. Park University

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: R. Marvin Owens Soccer Field

But they all know Barduzzi gives the Columbia College soccer team the best chance to score. The senior midfielder from Florianopolis, Brazil, leads the Cougars this season with 11 goals.

"Sometimes I try to dribble too much and I lose the ball, so they get on me," Barduzzi said, "But at the same time, I always complain to them because if I have the ball and I pass for a 1-2 and they don’t give it back, then I always complain. But its part of the game."

Despite his demand for the ball, Barduzzi has a great relationship with his teammates and coaches. He earned their respect early on. In his second game as a freshman, Barduzzi scored both of the Cougars' goals in a 2-1 overtime win over Berry College, ranked No. 11 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics at the time.

On the bus after that game, Coach John Klein told the team to thank Barduzzi for his effort. Barduzzi, who didn't speak English very well at the time, tried to spread the praise, but simply said, "Thank you, everybody!"

Since then, Barduzzi has improved his English, but his teammates won't stop ribbing him. Even the coach gets in on the action. Earlier this season, Barduzzi was asked how many goals he scored when Klein interrupted.

"Dylan gets most of his goals off penalty kicks," Klein joked.

"Aw, come on Coach," Barduzzi replied.

Barduzzi, a computer science major, made the American Midwest Conference academic all-conference team his sophomore year. Klein said Barduzzi has been a consistent scorer all four years. He has 42 goals so far in his career. Many of Barduzzi's goals come from opportunities he creates off the dribble.

"I like to play with the ball. I don’t like to mark or run behind the other guys to get the ball," Barduzzi said, "But unfortunately, I've got to do it."

For Barduzzi, the ball is almost his energy source. Teammate Tim Tevlin said Barduzzi is instantly energized when he gets the ball, no matter how tired he is.

"If he doesn’t get (the ball) out on the wing, where we’re putting him, you’ll start to see him start to move across the field into the middle so that he gets it more," Tevlin said.

During offseason long distance running, teammate Parker Rawdon said Barduzzi is always among the last to finish.

"I’ve never seen someone who runs long distance so badly but can run on the field so well," Rawdon laughed.

Klein said he wishes Barduzzi would get behind the defense more often but, as the postseason approaches, he recognizes the need for Barduzzi to score, no matter how he gets it done.

"He’s our most dangerous player. He’s already proven that," Klein said. "I think he’s going to need to score in big games down the stretch here."

No matter how tired Barduzzi gets, he will be eager to try and score.

"I’ll do everything, or anything to win the game," Barduzzi said.

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