New soccer co-captain builds team spirit

By Harrison Slaughter – jslaught@unca.edu – Staff Writer | Sept. 3, 2014 |

UNC Asheville men’s soccer team continues to fight their way to the top, with Zak Davis, junior goalie for the Bulldogs, leading the Bulldogs as a co-captain for the 2014-15 season.

“He has a great presence in goal, but he also has a big presence off the field,” said Matt Kern, head coach of the men’s soccer team. “He’s a great student. He’s a great soccer player. He’s a great person. He just oozes leadership qualities.”

According to Kern, the rotation between Davis and Dan Jackson, senior goalie for the Bulldogs, is still undecided.

“At the end of last year, we rotated them by half. During the preseason, we rotated them by half,” Kern said. “The coaching staff will meet and talk about it, but we don’t have a clear cut plan for the next game or the next two weeks.”

Jackson Allen, freshman forward for the Bulldogs, said he loves having Davis as a captain.

“He lifts the team whenever we’re down. He notices when players are struggling and gives them individual attention,” Allen said. “He brings the team up. He brings the whole atmosphere really high and I really enjoy having him around.”

According to Allen, Davis can be tough on the team when he needs to be.

“There are times when he has to be tough and tell us, this needs to be done now,” Allen said. “Most of the time, his relaxed nature really helps us out and everyone responds well to it.”

Davis transferred from Colgate University after his freshman season. During the 2012 season, Davis played in three games, started in one and made nine saves throughout the season. Davis snagged 28 saves in the 2013 season, played in seven games and made the start in five.

“I enjoyed Colgate a lot, but the coach and I decided that I didn’t really enjoy the atmosphere a lot,” Davis said. “I wanted to find a place I could thrive in and I ended up coming to UNC Asheville.”

According to Davis, he has very high expectations for the upcoming season.

“As a team, we have come through a lot in the last couple years. I think we have the ability to really make a run in the conference and shock some people,” Davis said. “Our expectations are to make the conference tournament and definitely make a good run in it.”

Davis said the preseason ranking of ninth in the Big South Conference definitely lights a fire under the team.

“People can doubt us, but I think we are going to show some people that we are not a ninth place team,” Davis said. “If anything, show them that we are able to go into a conference tournament and show them that we can play with them and that we can play with anybody.”

As far as hopes for the future, Davis said he would love to continue playing soccer after college, but he is taking it year by year right now and trying to enjoy his time in college. If that doesn’t work out, he said he hopes to become a physical therapist.

Davis said he thinks his best attributes are his charisma, passion and his compassion for his teammates.

“I wear my emotions on my sleeve in a lot of ways. That could be a good thing or a bad thing,” Davis said.

For fun, Davis said he enjoys hanging out with his friends and teammates.

“I love watching college football with the guys. Back home, during the summer, I like going to the beach. There’s nothing better than that,” Davis said. “I enjoy the mountains in Asheville. I don’t get to do that as much because of soccer. I’m a pretty easygoing guy. I like to just enjoy life.”

According to Davis, one of his biggest accomplishments is being able to play Division I soccer while maintaining a good GPA. Nothing disappoints him more than letting a teammate or family member down, he said.

“The best advice I have ever been given is to never give up especially when the times get rough,” Davis said. “Don’t get down on yourself. The only thing you can do is just keep fighting.”

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