Photo Courtesy of Viking Athletics

Freshman Forward Gabriel Pewu

September 21, 2016

Pewu defies ‘typical’ in rise to soccer stardom

Freshman Gabriel Pewu has a natural talent to play soccer.

Pewu, 18, a Cleveland Heights native, is the freshman forward on the men’s soccer team at Cleveland State University. Standing in at 6’3, Pewu is not an ideal soccer forward. Not many people that tall can play at his level. Already standing out on the team because of his exceptional play, Pewu is naturally looked upon as the leader of the team, and knows that when it’s time to come through to make a point, he is definitely up to the challenge.

Ali Kazemaini, the head coach for the men’s soccer team, now in his 11th season at that position, had many nice things to say about his freshman forward, but still believes there are areas of his game he could improve on.

“I think his willingness to learn is a good sign, ’’Kazemaini said. “Any time someone comes in as a freshman and doesn’t get caught up in the big moment because he’s playing and he continues to want to learn things and absorb things, I think that’s a positive.’’

Pewu’s athleticism separates himself from many players, and being fit is a must.

“Athletically he’s deceptively physical,’’ Kazemaini said. “He’s a big man so there’s a lot that he can offer, and we just have to groom him and see which parts of his game -- whether he’s a post up man or if he can try to get behind the defense -- I think he’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with.’’

Pewu, named Horizon Player of the Week on Aug. 29, 2016, knows the challenges that lie ahead. He knows all that too well, especially when he decided to stay in Cleveland and play for his hometown.

“I came to tour the campus and really liked it from the start,” Pewu said. “At the same time I met the head coach and the team, and I just fit in. I felt at the end of the day that CSU had a good program.’’
Pewu said he knows he has a lot to work on when it comes to his game, but he believes he brings many different skills to his game.

“There aren’t many soccer players that are 6’3. I’m big and I’m quick, quick with my feet, my feet are a little crafty, so most big guys aren’t with their feet, and my finishing ability is pretty good,’’ Pewu said.

Currently sitting at 2-2 in the standings, the men’s soccer team will be on the road for the next three games, starting off with a visit to Belmont University in Nashville, TN, followed by games at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and University of Detroit Mercy in Michigan.


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