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Challenge Coming For Ubiparipovic
Looking to back up Rookie of the Year season in Syracuse

MISL 2012-13 Season Preview

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Syracuse Silver Knights’ Slavisa Ubiparipovic burst onto the MISL scene last season, earning the league’s Rookie of the Year honors after scoring 22 goals and 61 points in 24 games.

But according to Silver Knights coach Tommy Tanner, this is where the hard work begins for the 25-year-old.

“His potential is absolutely incredible. Technically he’s sound, his vision is very good,” Tanner said recently. “This year, second-year player, they’re going to know who he is, defenses are going to try and take the things that we do away, and it’s [about] how we can make adjustments and how Slavisa can make adjustments to offset what these defenses are going to do?”

Having grown up playing indoor soccer in Ohio, Ubiparipovic was one of the few players with the Silver Knights last season that brought some experience of playing the game to the club. He credits much of his performance to the nurturing style Tanner and player/assistant coach Ryan Hall brought to the team, allowing its chemistry to build during the season and allowing the team to maintain an attacking style that saw the Silver Knights average almost 14 points per game.

“For what I did, for a lot of it I can thank the coaches, to Ryan Hall for introducing me to the game and being patient with me,” Ubiparipovic said. “It’s not easy being around a lot of guys who haven’t really played, or have never had a professional contract as well, and the patience to let them develop without yelling at them, it was great for me and gave me the opportunity to do what I do on the field.”

For their attacking prowess, however, the Silver Knights struggled at times at the other end of the field. Only Norfolk gave up more points last season, and while the Silver Knights were often close to claiming crucial victories as they dueled with the Rochester Lancers for the final playoff place, they were often unable to finish games strongly, falling to defeat.

“It’s frustrating when you know you have a good team and everything that it takes, but you give up goals in the fourth quarter that you shouldn’t be, scoring goals and then giving up goals right after,” Ubiparipovic said. “It’s frustrating, but then you realize that it was the team’s first year, you start thinking that next year it’s going to be better. I think some people were surprised at how good we were as a first-year team.”

Ubiparipovic believes with the lessons the side learned, they will improve defensively this season. The Silver Knights will also have more firepower, with the return from injury of Andre Berenzon and the additions of former Norfolk striker Matt Clare and Missouri Comets midfielder Neto.

Berenzon and Ubiparipovic struck up a strong relationship before the Brazilian succumbed to a season-ending injury after scoring 20 points in five games. If they can continue where they left off last season, Syracuse’s fans should see a lot of goals this winter.

“I’m happy to see him back and ready to go,” Ubiparipovic said of Berenzon. “He was back in practice for the first time since he got injured and he looks great, he looks ready to go. With him in the attacking third, I think we have a lot of guys that are very good at attacking and very good at scoring goals, so for other teams to be able to contain four, five, six guys that can score, it’s going to be very difficult.”

With heightened expectations from the team and the fans, Ubiparipovic is ready to fight through whatever opponents can throw at him.

“Everybody here is expecting a lot,” Ubiparipovic said. “Everybody here knows we have a good team and that the quality is there, and everybody knows now what to expect from other teams and what to expect from the league. I think this year a lot of guys have high expectations, much higher than last year.” 

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