Brooks filling new role

The UK men’s soccer team isn’t lighting up the scoreboard like it did last season, but the Cats have a new member who is standing out.

UK (4-6-3, 1-1-2 Conference USA) is considered one of the least experienced teams in the conference. Critics often link being a newcomer with being an inexperienced freshman, but one of the most efficient newcomers for UK isn’t a freshman.

Junior transfer Sam Brooks came to UK after playing collegiately at the University of the Cumberlands, an NAIA school. He came to UK as a defender, but quickly left his print on the offensive side of the pitch and still wants more down the stretch.

“I want a goal a game so I want at least five more goals this season,” Brooks said.

Brooks’ most recent goal came last week versus conference-leading University of Central Florida. Brooks wasted no time burying the ball in the back of the net against the Golden Knights on a play even he thought shouldn’t have counted.

“It happened really quick, inside three minutes,” Brooks said. “To be honest, I think it was a foul, but I’ll take it. I pushed him in the back and I carried on through and put it in the back of the net.”

Brooks realizes he must use his 6-foot-2, 210-pound body to his advantage when it comes to scoring goals.

“I have no pace whatsoever, I’m a big lad 6’2” and I need to do that or I’m not going to get them any other way, so that’s what I’m going to have to do,” Brooks said.

Perhaps an even bigger transition for Brooks from defense to offense was from his hometown to Lexington, Ky. Brooks was born in raised in Solihull, England.

Brooks can attribute his big body to moving to America.

“You Americans say you all gain the freshman fifteen but I weighed 185 pounds (coming in) and I gained 40-45 pounds and it isn’t that we are eating more. It’s just a lot more fattening and greasy,” he said.

But with the exception of the fast food, Brooks said the move to the states has been a move he has really enjoyed.

“Coming to Lexington is similar to my town in England,” Brooks said. “But school is a lot different, the lifestyle is different, much more laid back in the state of Kentucky and everyone is a lot more friendly.”

Brooks is the all-time leading goal scorer at his high school in England, so stepping up and being a leader isn’t a problem for Brooks.

“(UK head coach Ian Collins) brought me in as a leader,” he said. “I saw myself on the bench a few games but I worked hard and coach always called me a leader, someone who would bring energy onto the field. That’s why I’ve started the last six games.

“I do see myself as one of the leaders on this team.”

Brooks will need his leadership to translate to more goals for a team that has five goals less than they did at this point last season. Brooks is tied for the most goals on the team (three) with freshman forward Tyler Riggs, but Brooks leads the team in points thanks to his one assist on the season.

Brooks admits that the season hasn’t gone how he expected, but he is optimistic that if he, and the team, can step it up, they won’t have problems reaching their goals.

“Our record is definitely worse than what we expected, but we still have a lot of quality to have a winning season,” Brooks said. “We need to win our remaining conference games, get in the conference tournament, and I know we can win that and get into nationals, which was our goal at the beginning of the season.“