Returning the Titans to dominance

Nick Posthuma's soccer career has evolved in his four years on Cal State University Fullerton's men's soccer team. Now, entering his senior season, he's hoping his team can transform the Titans' soccer program.

The St. Francis High graduate and Pasadena native came into the 2010 season hoping to crack Cal State Fullerton's starting lineup. Posthuma did just that and drew attention from, which has him ranked No. 84 on its list of the Top-100 pro-soccer prospects among 2011 collegians.

Posthuma was crucial to the Titans' success last season. He led the team in goals (nine) and points (19) as a junior — a year when Fullerton went 7-12-2 and was eliminated in the finals of the Big West Conference postseason tournament by Santa Barbara, 3-1.

"Nick had a good year last year," said Titans Coach Bob Amman. "He scored a lot of goals for us and he was a bit of an unknown. Now we have to see if he can build upon that season when other teams are aware for him."

Posthuma's primary focus coming into his final college season is returning to full strength. He is trying to come back from a pulled groin muscle, an injury he's carried over from last season, and he thinks he's at about 80% right now.

Amman said it's important to get Posthuma healthy because of the effect he has on his teammates.

"Nick is the type of player that gives you 100% all of the time and that has a tendency to rub off on other players," Amman said. "He is an emotional leader for us and I am holding my breath that he will be able to make a full recovery and join us."

Posthuma has hauled in some individual honors and now he's concerned with growing Cal State Fullerton's soccer program. In the 1990s, Fullerton was a formidable program, making it to the NCAA tournament on four occasions.

"We've been there and now it's about getting back there," said Amman, who's in his fifth year coaching at Fullerton.

It's no secret that the school is now known for its baseball program, boasting a team that won the NCAA College World Series in 2004.

"We don't like living in the shadow of [the baseball team]," said Kevin Venegas, a senior midfielder on Fullerton's soccer team who was ranked the No. 98 prospect on the list. "It's annoying being referred to as a baseball school. We want to get our name up there and make the NCAA tournament."

"The last time we made the NCAA tournament was in 2000," Posthuma said. "Ever since I came here as a freshman, our goal has been to make the NCAA tournament and possibly make a run in it."

The Titans were one game away from the NCAA tournament in 2010. It was the first season Fullerton had qualified for the Big West tournament since joining the conference in 2001. Fullerton, the No. 4 seed, defeated UC Irvine, the top-seeded team in the tournament, 2-1, to reach the tournament's semifinal.

Amman understands the NCAA tournament is his team's goal this year, since this senior class is the first class he's coached all the way the way through.

"This is the culmination of everything we've done and last year we were one game away from [making the NCAA tournament]," Amman said. "This year is that next step. We are always preaching about that next step forward and this year that would be that next step."

With plenty of seniors returning this year, Posthuma sees this season as the best chance his team has had since he's been there.

"Pretty much the whole gist of us is coming back, that's why I think our team right now is the strongest since I've ever been here," Posthuma said.

Posthuma will look to be a big piece in the Titans' push to the NCAA tournament again this year with his same workhorse mentality.

"[Posthuma] may not be the most skilled player, but he's definitely the hardest worker," Venegas said. "He works hard and scores a lot of goals."

"Nick is not the type of player that depends on his technical ability," Amman said. "He's the type of person that wears you down. He goes, from the first minute to the 90th minute, 100 miles-per-hour. That causes a defender or anyone he is playing against fits.

"His personality, as a defender, is something you don't want to see because you know he's going to have you running until the very end."

The biggest goal of Posthuma's career came in Fullerton's semifinal game against UC Irvine. His goal gave his team the edge in the one-goal game and sent them closer to the NCAA tournament than they'd been in years.

"It was awesome to get that win over Irvine but it would've been 10 times better to win the final and get to the [NCAA] tournament," Posthuma said. "This year, the bar is set at at least making it to the NCAA tournament."

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