Growing up on Long Island, soccer was not the most exciting sport for redshirt-freshman Donovan Fraser.
Even his father, who is from England, never liked the game. Still, he signed his son up for soccer when Fraser was four years old. Like his father, he did not enjoy it at first.
“Honestly, I didn’t even like soccer in the beginning,” Fraser said. “I just had a lot of friends on the team, and we just had a lot of fun out there. One day, I was running around and apparently was good at it. I just ran with the ball and really enjoyed it.”
Even at a young age, Fraser was always a striker and had a knack for scoring goals.
Watching professional players in that position got him into the game even more. He idolized English Premier League stars like Didier Drogba of Chelsea and Arsenal’s Thierry Henry.
Fraser continued to become a dominant player during his time with Half Hollow Hills High School West, where he was a two-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America High School All-American and won the Suffolk League IV championship every year.
He was ranked the No. 58 recruit in his class by ESPNHS. As a result of his success, Fraser had several opportunities to play at the collegiate level. Fraser decided on the University of Maryland, a team that was ranked third in the nation last year.
But being at one of the best programs in the country had its drawbacks. Fraser knew with all of the talent on Maryland’s roster, there would be a good deal of competition within the team. After suffering injuries throughout last season, the chances of Fraser actually playing on the field were diminishing.
“Being at Maryland, you’re surrounded by so much talent and the amount of time you deserve is difficult at times,” Fraser said. “The coaches say one thing [about playing time] and change it. It’s always changing. Looking towards the future, did I really want to see if I can get on the field or not next year? Or be eligible elsewhere?”
Temple coach David MacWilliams understood where Fraser was coming from.
“He came in as a highly recruited player,” MacWilliams said. “I don’t know if he had a lot of time there, but felt change was necessary.”
“He’s a competitor and wants to play,” MacWilliams added. “He might not have a lot of opportunity there [as opposed to] here, so he came to a team that was successful last year and we were looking for a goal scorer and I think he fits both of us really.”
While he couldn’t see himself playing needed minutes in Maryland, Fraser had another option: transfer to another school where he’ll be eligible to play. That school ended up being Temple.
“The goalie on the team, I played with him before college, and his dad said the Temple coach is looking for a striker and [that’s why I] always thought of Temple on the back of my head,” Fraser said.
Last season was a disappointment for Fraser due to injuries, but now with a new team, he feels he can bring a lot more to the table.
“As a striker, scoring goals will be my goal,” Fraser said. “But besides that, I just want to help this team win and bring them to the next level. We did well last season having a winning record, and have to have a winning record again. We have a tough schedule, but I’m looking bigger—looking at the NCAA and get into the tournament.”
“Yeah, I think that bunch of our guys will have a good year this year,” senior captain Ryan Bradbury said. “And [Fraser] will definitely be on the stat sheet a lot.”
Although Fraser is coming to a new system and a new team, MacWilliams hopes that chemistry will not be an issue heading into their first game.
“We’re looking at different formations to get the chemistry going and it is a learning process for the new players,” MacWilliams said. “That’s going to take some time, and hopefully guys will pick this up quick. But we will get stronger and better as the year goes on.”
Bradbury isn’t concerned about chemistry. He believes it will take only the preseason games to get used to one another and won’t be an issue going into the regular season.
“We play a ton of practices and get familiar with everybody,” Bradbury said. “Maybe [in the] first couple preseason games, [we] will feel each other out. But, once we get into our first regular season game, I think we’ll be fine then.”
Bradbury and the men’s soccer team will start their season this Friday in Jersey City, N.J. as they take on Saint Peter’s University at 4 p.m.
Hoon Jin can be reached at email@example.com.