Commentary

Justin Davies takes on offensive role

Updated: September 16, 2010, 9:05 AM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPN.com

Justin Davies had it all planned out. The first time the San Diego State junior scored a college goal, he was going to make a beeline toward a corner flag and perform the "Stanky Leg" dance made popular by his older brother and U.S. National Team member Charlie Davies.

Justin Davies
Courtesy of Stan LiuJustin Davies has forged his reputation on his defensive play.

After two years of waiting, the younger Davies got his chance Friday night.

Davies tapped the ball into an open net after the Air Force keeper made an initial save on his shot in the 77th minute. It was his first career goal, and it stood for a 1-0 San Diego State victory.

"I was going to do the same celebration as my brother," Justin Davies said with a laugh. "As I was about to do it, one of the players grabbed me because they were all excited that I scored. They took [the moment] away from me."

Apparently, there will be more scoring opportunities in Davies' future.

A career defender, Davies has been moved to left midfield this season and is delivering offensively. His first goal came on an evening in which he took a career-high six shots. Two days later, Davies scored again in San Diego State's 4-1 win over Oakland University to cap the team's 2-0 showing at the Courtyard Marriott San Diego Central Tournament and propel the Aztecs to their best start (3-1-0) since 2005.

Davies decided against a goal celebration during the Oakland match, saying, "I'm waiting for the right moment, and I'll break it out for sure."

Justin Davies is two years younger than Charlie, a forward who is playing professionally for Sochaux in France. They spent one year as high school teammates at Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. From an early age, Justin took on a defensive role, opposite his high-scoring brother.

He said his father would make him defend Charlie in their childhood years, which allowed Justin to develop defensive skills at a young age. Justin even played two years up in youth soccer because of his defensive abilities, and he viewed playing defense as a way to create his own identity on the soccer field.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Davies
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesOlder brother Charlie Davies had a few words of advice when Justin moved into a more offensive role.

"There was always the brother thing," Justin said. "I was really the defensive guy and he was the forward. There's always going to be comparisons. I still get it today when I go away for games. The fans will heckle me. It doesn't really bother me. I'm doing my own thing and creating my own identity."

When Justin Davies was asked to be more of an attacking player this year, he sought his brother's advice.

"He told me to use my speed, which is one thing we have in common," Justin said. "He talked to me about spacing and getting myself into position to help out the team any way I can."

Those pointers came into play Friday, when San Diego State senior captain Raymundo Reza dumped a long ball over the Air Force defense. Davies outran an Air Force defender, gathered the pass and placed a shot on goal. The keeper made the save, but the ball rebounded right back to Davies for the easy finish.

After the match, Davies was eager to share the news with his brother, who is nine hours ahead while living in France.

"I think he was more excited than me," Justin said. "He was really happy. He even put it up on his Twitter. It was kind of a really cool moment for us."

Around the nation

Eating up the competition: Senior Spencer Thompson's first career hat trick earned him the Big West Offensive Player of the Week honors and also helped UC Irvine handle Air Force 5-0 to win the Courtyard Marriott San Diego Central Tournament. The Anteaters are 5-0 on the season and have vaulted to the No. 1 position in the NSCAA Far West rankings.

On the rise: William and Mary is off to a 3-0 start thanks largely to the timely scoring from senior Ryan Snyder. The Annandale, Va., native netted the game-winning goals in the Tribe's 3-1 victory over Loyola and a 2-1 come-from-behind win over West Virginia. He capped the week with a two-goal, one-assist performance in the team's 4-0 victory over Rhode Island to secure the ODU/Stihl Soccer Classic title. William and Mary's perfect start has resulted in a NSCAA South Atlantic regional ranking of No. 6, behind ACC powers No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Maryland and No. 3 Boston College, and No. 4 Towson and No. 5 Drexel.

Football central? Ohio State has the No. 2-ranked college football team in the land and the university's 4-0 men's soccer start has those Buckeyes knocking on the door of a soccer top-10 ranking as well. Ohio State and Penn State are the only universities that have teams in the Top 25 for football and "futbol." In case you are wondering, no school has ever swept the football and soccer national titles in the same school year.

Recruiting angle: When it comes to landing major talent that sometimes goes unnoticed nationally, George Mason University ranks right up there. However, keeping those players, at times, has proved more difficult. Take, for example, this summer. The Patriots were all set to welcome Conor Shanosky this fall, but less than a month before fall training, Shanosky signed a professional contract with DC United -- ending any chance of him wearing the green and gold at Mason. Well, Mason appears to have landed another intriguing recruit with pro potential in Verneri Valimaa in the Class of 2011. Valimaa confirmed to ESPN RISE that he committed to George Mason last week. The talented midfielder who resides in Florida is actually from Finland. He had been called into the U.S. youth national team camps as an under-15-year-old player, but more recently has been with Finland's under-19 squad.

For the latest verbal commitment information, visit ESPNRISE.com.

Sheldon Shealer is the soccer editor of ESPNRISE.com, ESPN's high school sports site.