September 22, 2012 – Every team can use a Ryan Hollingshead.
He’s one of those lunch-pail kind of soccer players. Tough, skilled, versatile, follows orders, gets the job done right and doesn’t complain.
UCLA is glad to have him on its team.
The senior was all over the field on Friday night in the No. 8 ranked Bruins’ 1-1 tie against No. 9 UCSB before 7,542 fans at Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium.
A four-year starter, Hollingshead usually plays at outside midfielder or forward, but against the speedy Gauchos coach Jorge Salcedo put him in the middle of the pitch to defuse UCSB attacks and ignite the Bruin offense.
“Tonight was the first time where he played the entire match in the middle of the field, Salcedo said. “He’s usually an outside midfielder for us. It’s a little bit of a Catch-22. If you play him outside, he obviously doesn't make all the plays he makes in the middle of the field. If he plays on the outside, you can make a case where maybe he breaks them down on the outside.”
“Unfortunately, we have only one Ryan Hollingshead and he can be only in one spot.”
He was everywhere playing against the Gauchos. He won head balls, made tackles in the midfield, slipped through passes and took shots in the attacking third and cleared crosses in his 18-yard box.
“The amount of balls he won and the amount of tackles he won was phenomenal, “ Salcedo raved.
It’s all part of being a well-rounded soccer player and person.
Hollingshead has been nominated as one of thirty men’s soccer candidates for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award. The award honors male soccer players for their accomplishments both on and off the field.
He carries a 3.52 cumulative grade point average in Psychology and is on track to graduate after the fall quarter. He does a video recap on the soccer team on the UCLA Athletics Web site.
Hollingshead definitely has a head for the game, which is why he can play different positions on the field.
“I’ve played every position except for goalie, so far. Today, they wanted me to be an enforcer in the middle; they wanted me to break up plays, make runs late in the box when nobody was marking me.”
“This was the first time they threw me in at center –mid. I knew what I had to do. I had to get in the air and win headers, break up plays, be kind of scrappy and win tackles.”
He did it all and his efforts helped the Bruins (4-1-2) earn a tie in a hostile environment and extend their unbeaten streak to six games.
“He played box to box tonight and he played a fantastic game,” said Salcedo.
Hollingshead is a player fans can’t help but notice on the field because he does so many things.
“A lot of people that come and watch us play see how many plays he makes,” Salcedo said. “He plays with that kind of heart in every game he plays.”
And, Salcedo pointed out, “He only gets better. This is only our seventh game, so by the 10th through 15th game he becomes even more fit and sharper.”
Barry Punzal is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org