Sunday, October 19, 2003

College Update

Soccer gives Burch vast new world

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Since leading Turpin to state soccer championships in 2000 and 2001, former Mr. Soccer Ohio Marc Burch has taken his soccer skills all the way to Spain and played among the world's best.

Some days, even he has a hard time believing the places he has been and the players he has seen.

"It's been amazing," said Burch, a sophomore at the University of Evansville in Indiana.

Burch, who had 79 goals and 81 assists during his Turpin career, earned a coveted spot on the U.S. Nationals U-18 team in January and competed in tournaments in France, Ireland, California and Florida.

But Burch was so impressive, U.S. U-20 coach Thomas Rongen invited him to play in August's COTIF Torneig Internacional in Spain. The team's roster included six Major League Soccer standouts.

"It was awesome knowing I could play with those guys, and that people thought I was as good as them," Burch said.

Burch scored the game-winning goal in a match against Egypt and had an assist against Russia. The United States finished in second place with a 2-1-1 record during the 12-day excursion.

Yet Burch's thoughts never strayed far from his Evansville team, which had started preseason conditioning. Evansville coach Dave Golan said Burch talked about his trip when asked, but the forward was eager to return to the collegiate atmosphere.

"I wanted to ask about the U.S. and how they were doing, and he wanted to know about UE and how we were doing," Golan said.

Burch has contributed one goal and four assists for the Purple Aces since his return. His first goal of the season boosted Evansville to its first win over a top-10 team (No. 6 Southern Methodist) since 1996, and on Oct. 9 Burch was named a Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Week for his performance and his 3.21 grade-point average.

Once a prolific scorer, Burch has evolved into the team's marquee passer, Golan said.

"He can score goals, but he's incredibly unselfish," Golan said. "He'd pass up a good shot to give (the ball) to a guy with a sure shot."

Said Burch: "I don't even go for scoring anymore. I like making my teammates look good."

Golan, who this season replaced 24-year Evansville coach Fred Schmalz, knew he was inheriting one of the best players in the Midwest in Burch. Though Burch endures the physical brunt of opponents' strongest defenders, he never complains, Golan said.

His attitude, demeanor, talent and experiences can take Burch wherever he wants, Golan said. Burch will settle for places on the United States Olympic soccer team and a Major League Soccer team.

"He's so passionate about the game," Golan said. "You can't hold him back."


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