It doesn't matter much where Brock Fitzgerald is on the soccer field.
Regardless of the position, the Lincoln Pius X senior is probably causing problems for opponents and making life easier on teammates.
“He's certainly capable of scoring,” Pius coach Harlan Milder said. “He holds his own as a midfielder, too, and that's certainly the building part of the field. If you ever saw him practice, he sort of plays the same way. He's all over the place.”
Fitzgerald is again leading the charge for the Class A No. 7 Thunderbolts, albeit a little farther back than he did in previous years.
“We consider him an offensive midfielder,” Milder said.
It might be the best way to describe the 5-foot-8, 145-pound Creighton recruit. After he put together a pair of quality seasons at forward to start his high school career, the Thunderbolts needed him more in the midfield last season.
He made the transition look easy, putting up strong numbers as a junior — 13 goals and 14 assists.
But he was more of a facilitator. Teammates Nate Pohlen and Eric Pryor had the big stats, totaling 41 goals and 25 assists to finish second and third, respectively, in Class B in scoring.
“It was more of a defensive mid role,” Fitzgerald said. “This year I'm more of an attacker in the midfield. It's comfortable.”
Fitzgerald grew up moving around the field. One match he'd be scoring goals, the next he'd be preventing them.
“I liked playing center back and shutting down the other team's star forward,” he said, “and up top is fun because you're trying to score, trying to create chaos.”
He's found a bit of a home in the midfield for Pius, though. Fitzgerald said he likes to control the pace and flow of the game from the middle.
His position at the next level hasn't been decided, Fitzgerald said. But the opportunity to play inside Morrison Stadium for four years was too much to resist. Fitzgerald accepted CU's offer the day it was extended early in the process, despite interest from other big-name programs.
“Coach (Elmar) Bolowich is amazing,” Fitzgerald said. “The facilities and the crowd attendance ... it was all too much to pass up.”
His future home field is one the Thunderbolts have made an annual late-season destination. Morrison Stadium, site of the state soccer tournament, has been the ending point for each of Fitzgerald's three seasons, including a Class B championship run in 2010.
Making it four years in a row at state won't be easy, though. The Thunderbolts moved up to Class A this season.
Players “took it as a challenge,” Milder said. “If you came to our practice, you'd see we are working harder and conditioning longer for being able to compete at that level.”
It nearly paid off Saturday, when the Thunderbolts pushed the state's top-ranked team, Omaha Creighton Prep, well into the second half. After falling behind 2-0, Pius evened things early after halftime before falling 3-2.
Fitzgerald said the near miss can go a long way in providing confidence the rest of the season.
“We were excited to play them,” Fitzgerald said. “They're a good team to see where we stand for the future in Class A. Our whole team is excited for opportunities like those.”
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