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Sep 04, 2012

Transfer Alex Martinez vital to N.C. State’s hot start

By Quinn Casteel | ACC Own the Pitch 

Your points leader in the ACC after two full weeks of action is N.C. State midfielder Alex Martinez, a junior transfer from High Point who has eight points in his first four games with the Wolfpack.

Martinez’s four assists are good for second in the conference behind only Maryland’s Patrick Mullins five, and he was recently named to College Soccer News’ National Team of the Week for his MVP performance at the John Rennie Nike Invitational over the weekend, as reported by Soccer Wire Tuesday afternoon. Martinez had a goal and two assists in his team’s 6-0 blowout of Delaware on Friday, and scored the game-winner against Santa Clara two days later.

Alex Martinez (Photo from Wolfpack Athletics).

Head Coach Kelly Findley told ‘ACC Own the Pitch’ Tuesday that Martinez has been invaluable in jumpstarting the Wolfpack offense and leading the team to its best start since the 1987 season.

“We were excited to get him— it’s very important to get transfers that can do the job, but he’s also a junior which is something that we needed, we need some experience,” said Coach Findley. “We’re still rotating a lot of young guys, so his experience and quality is something that’s really helped.”

Two weeks in, N.C. State is second behind Maryland in goals per game with 3.00, and tied with Wake Forest in team assists per game at 2.00. Martinez has emerged as the team’s No. 2 offensive playmaker behind junior forward Nazmi Albadawi, N.C. State’s leading scorer from 2011. Martinez led High Point with 11 goals and 24 points as a sophomore in 2011.

“He’s a really competitive and driven guy,” added Coach Findley of Martinez. “He’s someone that wants to prove himself, even to himself, and I think that’s had a lot to do with his success,”

Not only does Martinez take pressure off Albadawi, their skillsets mesh in a way that allows them to make each other better. He and Albadawi played on the same team during  the summer, became friends and developed chemistry on the field, and the momentum has carried over into the regular season for the Wolfpack.

Coach Findley and the N.C. State offense are reaping the benefits.

“It’s tough when you only have one guy scoring for you, which is pretty much what Naz (Albadawi) did last year, you become very predictable and you’re easier to defend,” said Findley. “With Alex and Jonny Ray, and Monbo (Bokar) all getting on the scoresheet, it takes a lot of pressure off Naz.”

The Wolfpack offense has expanded to a point where they are one of the most dangerous teams in the conference going forward. Of their six goals scored against Delaware on Friday, none were by Albadawi, a good sign for the attack as a whole.

N.C. State’s next match is Friday at UNC Greensboro, the team’s second road match of the season. They went close to two calendar years without winning a road match until they beat Liberty 2-0 on opening weekend this year, a match which the coaching staff intentionally scheduled to begin the season to prove they are a team ready to play on the road.

Now that the Wolfpack have broken the road losing streak and cracked the top 25, look for them to build on that success this weekend.

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