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Experience leads Eagle defense: Defenders develop a sixth sense

Wednesday, October 24, 2007  
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By Chad Hartwell

When teammates play together long enough, they seem to get a sixth sense of knowing what the other will do. For three Oklahoma Christian University senior defenders, this has finally become the case.

Adam Barnes and Kurk Ziegler have manned the Eagles back line together since they were freshman, while Frei moved to the defender position in his sophomore season.

“Barnes and I know what each other does,” Ziegler said. “We played together for three years so we know who’s going to step up when someone needs to win the ball. We finally turned around this year, and we play each other’s strengths.”

Each of the three players started all 19 games for Oklahoma Christian in 2006 and was part of an Eagle defense that allowed just 23 goals and earned seven shutouts.

Since coming to Oklahoma Christian, Barnes, Ziegler and Frei have helped the Eagles to a 31-23-10 record and a trip to the second round of the NAIA National Tournament last year.

They believe playing together for the past few years and good communication with each other enables them to obtain success on the soccer field.

“It is important to keep good defensive shape when we play, so a lot of communication helps in that as well as communicating our marks as they move across the field,” Frei said. “I think that all of us being starters helped us learn each other’s tendencies and style of playing.”

While Barnes, Ziegler and Frei are close, they number three, four and five, respectively; they have very different styles of play.

“Ziegler is fast and strong in the air. Barnes has good footwork and vision, and I think I have good foot skills and can attack out of the back fairly well,” Frei said. “Most of the time we know what the other person will do before they do it.”

These guys not only play soccer together, but the three of them also share an apartment together and consider each other to be good friends. Barnes and Ziegler have lived together since their sophomore year, and Frei moved in last year.

“They are two of my best friends, and it has been a pleasure to play with them these four years,” Frei said. “It hasn’t always been easy, but they have made it an enjoyable experience for me.”

Even when times aren’t the best, the trio works to lift each other’s spirits.

“We go through good times and hard times together,” Ziegler said. “When one of us is hurt, we go to each other and lift each other up.”

Barnes originates from Yukon, Okla. and has played soccer since he was 3 years old. He earned NAIA All-America Honorable Mention honors his sophomore and junior seasons and has served as a captain for the Eagles the last three years. Off the field, he has been an example to his teammates.

“Barnes is a good Christian example on and off the field,” Ziegler said. “The way he lives his life is a light to me.”

Ziegler came to Oklahoma Christian from Wellington, Ohio, where he started playing soccer at age six. He traveled all over the United States with a club team and when he visited Oklahoma Christian, he felt like it was the best place and team for him.

“I like it at Oklahoma Christian because there is a lot of good competition, and I have made a lot of good friends,” Ziegler said.

While Barnes has received most of the one field accolades among the three, he concedes Ziegler doesn’t receive enough attention for what he does.

“Ziegler does not receive the recognition he deserves,” Barnes said. “He is the backbone of the defense.”

Frei played soccer starting at age four in Fort Collins, Colo. He hopes to continue playing soccer after college and plans to return closer to home and maybe play for the Colorado Rapids.

These three may all play soccer together, but they have developed a deep friendship that goes much further than just being teammates.

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