Hamstrung Hoffmeister looks for health, to make impact

Photo by Lonna King

The Utah Valley University men’s soccer team got off to a 3-0 start on the season and junior midfielder Paul Hoffmeister was instrumental in leading the Wolverines out of the gate. Hoffmeister netted four goals in the first two games of the season and lifted the Wolverines to a critical 2-1 victory over Washington with two goals in the first-ever top-25 matchup on UVU’s campus.

The Hilden, Germany native found himself in Orem, Utah after UVU coaches Greg Maas and Matt Ellinger recruited Hoffmeister at a showcase of college coaches in his native country.

“It sounded exciting, a first-year program at that time,” said Hoffmeister. “That’s the reason I came here; the coaches seemed very good and they convinced me to come here.”

Despite having spent time playing with the German soccer club Fortuna Düsseldorf, Hoffmeister still had to adjust to the style of play in the U.S.

“It’s a bit more physical I would say,” said Hoffmeister. “More direct soccer, so just play the ball on line and try to create chances out of that, I think. In Germany, it’s still a bit more technical.”

After two-plus seasons with UVU, Hoffmeister appears to have adjusted to the style of soccer on this side of the pond. His tremendous speed allows him to break free of defenders and create scoring opportunities behind the opposition’s defense.

Hoffmeister’s abilities have not gone unnoticed this season. After his two-goal outing against Washington, Hoffmeister was named to College Soccer News’ National Team of the Week for the first time in his career.

After the fast start, Hoffmeister was slowed by a hamstring injury sustained against Bradley in just the third match of the season. The injury limited his minutes during the following game against Loyola Chicago. After he missed a match against Northern Illinois, Hoffmeister returned for a 1-0 win over Gonzaga, but only on a limited basis.

The injury continued to hamper Hoffmeister’s performance and limited more of his time on the pitch. In order to return to health, Hoffmeister was forced to miss the loss to Sacramento State. He then played just seven minutes in the win over UC Davis, which effectively allowed him two weeks to recover.

After he averaged 68 minutes in the first two matches, Hoffmeister returned against Seattle U with a 68-minute performance. However, as with most hamstring injuries, Hoffmeister still believes he needs time to heal before he reaches full-strength.

Aside from scoring goals on the pitch, Hoffmeister has other goals for himself and the rest of the Wolverines for the remainder of the season.

“I hope that I play a very good season, that I finally get 100 percent healthy again,” said Hoffmeister. “And then that we go to the NCAA Tournament again.”

Though he is only a junior, the business management major says he intends to enter the MLS draft after this season.

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