Business as usual for Posthuma

His timing has often been perfect on the field. Nick Posthuma could speed past a vulnerable opponent and direct a crisp pass from a teammate into the back of the net.

In addition, a reputation for developing an impeccable work ethic helped Posthuma get places and receive recognition, leading to him picking up his annual share of postseason accolades while starring for St. Francis High.

Posthuma's style hasn't changed that much, as he's now a junior forward on the Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team, but by his account his skills have.

"At St. Francis, I was more successful because of my work ethic and being able to help make things happen," said Posthuma, a two-time All-Area Player of the Year who graduated from St. Francis in 2008. "I didn't always have the best skills.

"At Fullerton, I've maintained that same work ethic, but I've since developed my overall skills. I've gotten better with the techniques."

It took Posthuma some time to adapt to the more physical brand of soccer encountered at the collegiate level. After awhile, things became easier for Posthuma to learn and he made the necessary adjustments to the level of play needed to excel at Fullerton.

During his freshman campaign, Posthuma registered a pair of goals in 19 matches. Last season, he notched two goals and one assist for five points in 16 matches.

"In my freshman year, I had a minimal role," Posthuma said. "I didn't start, but I played a lot.

"I had a bigger part with the team and I could see myself progressing last year."

Posthuma, a former Mission League and All-CIF pick under the tutelage of veteran St. Francis Coach Glen Appels, would like for that progress to keep ascending. The Titans, who went 8-9-2 and 4-5-1 in the Big West Conference for fifth place last season, will kick off a brand new season at 4 p.m. Sept. 3 against St. Mary's at the two-day St. Mary's Tournament in Moraga.

Fullerton will return the bulk of its starting players and will look to move up in conference. It will need Posthuma's contributions to see that come to fruition.

"We don't have a huge period of time of preparation," Fullerton fifth-year Coach Bob Ammann said. "It's going to be crucial for our players to be fit.

"With Nick, he's a handful for defenders to deal with. When I saw him at St. Francis, his work ethic and desire is what jumped out at me. You could see the potential that he had. Between his first and second years at Fullerton, you could see improvements with his game. We just hope that can continue."

Additional time spent in the weight room and practicing have also helped ignite Posthuma, who might be in line to grab a starting spot in Fullerton's lineup this season. Fullerton will likely battle with defending-conference champion UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Davis and Cal State Northridge for one of four spots in the conference tournament in November.

Posthuma said there's always room for improvement.

"In high school, you could have a bad touch and likely get away with it," said Posthuma, a kinesiology major. "In college, you can't do that.

"I've learned that you have to be smarter on the field and know what your options are. I just want to continue developing my skills and helping us win some matches."

Posthuma excelled at St. Francis with Nick Swart to form a dynamic duo for several seasons. Posthuma, who finished with 21 goals and eight assists for 50 points and helped St. Francis win the league championship in 2008, and Swart are now teammates at Fullerton.

Swart, a redshirt sophomore midfielder, said Posthuma hasn't changed his style of play since joining the Titans.

"He's a naturally fit athlete," said Swart, a former All-Area first-team pick. "At St. Francis, he wasn't a very flashy athlete but he did the right things with his speed and touch of the ball.

"Now, he's kept progressing. We've played together for such a long time and we have that link in that we know what the other person will do. When his mind is in the right frame, the sky is the limit."

With less than two months before the opening match, Posthuma said he's putting the finishing touches on gearing up for the grind of the season.

There will be plenty of practices and evaluations made by the Fullerton coaching staff to find out where Posthuma might possibly fit in Fullerton's lineup.

"I know what I'm capable of doing," said Posthuma, who was tabbed the Mission League Offensive Player of the Year in 2008. "I want to keep getting better."

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