By SIMON BRADY
Excitement was at an all time high for the UT men’s soccer team at this past weekend’s homecoming game. The Spartans have enjoyed a successful 8-2-2 beginning of the season. However, they had dropped the last two games to No. 15 ranked Lynn at home, and on the road at Eckerd college. The Spartans won a statement game over Barry 4-1 on Friday, snapping their two game skid.
Despite the recent struggles, Men’s soccer head coach Adrian Bush fully expected the men to bounce back in a big way. Coach Bush previewed Friday’s game earlier in the week. “The team has responded well in the past and one thing we see is this group cares,” Bush said. “I feel they will respond well Friday.”
To amend the previous poor performances, coaches stressed a specific message to ensure changes for Friday. “We have not put out the intensity for the full 90 minutes in our last 2 matches,” Bush said. “So for Friday it’s one word: Intensity”
Bush also recognized that homecoming weekend would give Friday’s game a little extra special feeling than usual. “As a graduate of UT our entire staff knows how this weekend is for all of UT,” said Bush on Wednesday before the game.
When you factor the fact that several UT alumni were in attendance for the game, combined with their competition being an elite squad like Barry, the motivation and eagerness were especially high. “I feel like the players are really looking forward to playing against a top 10 opponent in front of the biggest crowd of the year,” Bush said before the game.
Coach Bush understands the competitiveness that exists in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) this year. This matchup against Barry was a huge test for the Spartans, and the challenge excited the entire team. “Any time you get the opportunity to play a top 10 team it’s a chance a prove to the country that you belong with the elite teams,” said Bush. “As a collegiate player, it doesn’t get any better than this and says a lot about our conference to have four teams in the top 25.”
Sophomore midfielder Fredinho Mompremier also spoke on playing Barry, and putting the team’s recent slump in the rearview mirror. “It’s futbol, you’re going to have your ups and downs, but it’s time to turn that down,” Mompremier said before Friday’s game. “We’re ready to start with a win and fight for the conference title hopefully.”
Mompremier continued by saying that they’ve played some talented opponents, giving them the experience necessary to perform at a higher level in big games moving forward. “We learned a lot from the past three games so now we’re ready to go to war,” said Mompremier. “We’re excited and more ready for those types of occasions and games like that.”
The Spartans used that intensity Bush and Mompremier alluded to earlier in the week to seize the much needed victory.
The win for the Spartans can be attributed to taking advantage of scoring opportunities. The Spartans shot an efficient four of seven on goal. Meanwhile, Barry only mustered one goal on six attempts on the other end.
The Spartans drew first blood early as junior midfielder Troy Tucker found freshman midfielder Lewis Sugden for the score in the 15th minute of play. Both teams displayed great defense from there on out in the first half as the Spartans had a 1-0 advantage after 45 minutes.
Mompremier highlighted the night for the Spartans. He scored two goals including the all important one in the 63rd minute assisted by senior midfielder Jon Tiggs, that put the Spartans ahead for good.
The Spartans closed it out with scores in the 85th minute by junior defensive midfielder Bay Downing, and one in the final minute by Mompremier.
This was the turnaround victory the Spartans needed. Following Friday’s win, the Spartans improved to 7-2-2 overall, and 3-2-1 in the SSC. As Mompremier said earlier, the ultimate goal for his squad is to compete for the conference title. The Spartans hope to ride the momentum of Friday’s impressive win to reach that point. A tough road test awaits the Spartans next as they travel to 22nd ranked Florida Tech this Saturday.
Simon Brady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org