Volume 92, Issue 24

Friday, October 16, 1998

arresting developments


Hassan head and shoulders above the rest

Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

UP, UP AND AWAY. John Hassan [3] rises above the competition both on and off the field as he leads the Mustangs in their quest for their third straight Ontario crown.

By Will Grover
Gazette Writer

While football often gets the spotlight at Western, the men's soccer team has quietly put together another top-notch season, boasting a 4-1-1 record as they look to repeat as Ontario University Athletics champs.

This year's 'Stang team is a throwback to past teams which combine the tough, physical tradition and skill which have characterized Western teams in past years. One player who fits the profile is Jon Hassan, a London native with a passion for the game.

"He and Mike are the strengths back there," said head coach Rock Bassaco. "They prove a very difficult duo to get throughballs by. They really solidify our back four in terms of defence."

Bassaco went on to add Hassan is the man they look for in many inbounding situations and is very solid on the defensive end. "He's tenacious and can mark a player right out of a game."

Hassan's soccer resumé includes playing since he was five years old and competing internationally at a tournament in Wales and the Dallas Cup. He also won a national title with the London Red Devils in '92.

This experience, combined with his season last year, resulted in him becoming a co-captain, which is quite an honour for a second-year player.

"I feel I have good rapport with the guys and that I try not to play favorites with anyone," Hassan said when asked what he brings in terms of leadership. "I always try to make people feel good about the team. I like having certain responsibilities. I like to be vocal and being a captain keeps me more interested in the total game than I am in just my game."

Basacco elaborated that Hassan is "low-key" and "a gentleman" off the field. On the field, however, Hassan leads by example. "It's like he's a totally different person. He's so aggressive, he doesn't shy away at all," Basacco said.

With an attitude like that, it's easy to see why Hassan fits the mold of Western's combination of skill and physical play which have characterized Mustang soccer teams, past and present.

If Western can put away the division title, they will qualify for the national championships in Montreal. They have finished second and sixth in the nation in the past two years, which is no small feat, but the coaching staff have goals to better that this year.

Though it will be no simple task, considering the chemistry and attitude of this year's team, the Mustangs are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

As for after the soccer season, Hassan would like to pursue a teaching career. Hassan also attended the University of West Virginia, but returned to Western because he wanted a "good, solid education."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

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