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Hi. I follow all SMU sports but I plan to attend a few soccer games to help get over my football frustrations. I just wanted to know who's good and what chance we have of winning it all this year? Thanks.
SMU-THE University of Texas
Depends on what you mean about winning it all. Both the mens and womens teams are favored to once again win their conference championships this year. The 4th or 5th consecutive title for both teams. Neither, however, is a realistic contender for the national title this year. Both are playing alot of freshman and sophomores this year (womens team starts 5 true freshmen), and are at least a year away from reaching their peak.
CPC cant really tell you who is good. They're all good. Last years conference MVPs (Tara Comfort and Diego Walsh) both graduated, but there are plenty of people ready to step up. Kim Harvey will be All-WAC for the 4th time this year. Her scoring numbers may be down this year, because every defense surrounds her with 4 players whenever she has the ball, but she is without a doubt one of the best players we've ever had.
Mens goalkeeper TJ Tomassso is on his way to setting a record for shutouts in a season. David Chun and Duke Hashimoto are both playing well to start the year, and Ugo Imelhu has always been one of the countries best defenders. Ramon Nunez was considered to be the top high school recruit in the country.
It doesnt feel right to single out players, because they're all good, and right now there really isnt any one player on the mens team who stands out above everyone else. On any given night a different player could have a big game.
Must see game: SMU vs. Creighton. Creighton was a Final Four team last year, and is always our biggest rival for the conference title. SMU won the regular season matchup last year, but Creighton won the conference tournament. Its always an emotional, physical game, and Creighton usually brings a good crowd.
Thats about it. Enjoy.
Some will tell you that a glass is half empty, and others that the same glass is half full. But all CPC really wants to know is...... does the drink taste good?
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by methodistmustang:
<B>Hi. I follow all SMU sports but I plan to attend a few soccer games to help get over my football frustrations. I just wanted to know who's good and what chance we have of winning it all this year? Thanks.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Welcome aboard the bandwagon, methodistmustang!
Going into the season, there were some unanswered questions about the team: new coach, graduated seniors, etc. In the early going, those questions have been answered.
New head coach John Cossaboon has the team playing with an intensity I haven't seen since the Alan Kirkup days. He's an aggressive coach who's not afraid to take risks - for evidence, just look at the fact that in his first year at SMU, he's starting as many as five freshmen. And those freshmen are playing well.
The attention-grabber, I guess, is senior forward Kim Harvey, who used to be known as "Sarah's younger sister" - but now has eclipsed all her sister's scoring totals. Kim is marked (covered) heavily in every game, and appears unfazed by the beatings she takes. She won't fly past the defense with speed, but she has remarkable poise with the ball when the defense is trying to take the ball - or a kneecap - from her. She has a powerful shot with either foot, is strong in the air (I think she's 5'10" pr 5'11") and has become an exceptional passer.
Kim is joined up front by fellow senior Lauren Mussallem and one of two freshmen: Adria Campbell and Olivia O'Rear. Mussallem and O'Rear are the fastest of the forwards, and just this weekend, O'Rear showed a knack for being in the right place at the right time with a pair of goals. Campbell looks like the one most likely to start a fistfight, but I mean that in a good way. She never allows the defense to bring the ball out of the back without harrassing them, and looks like she talks constantly out there - to teammates, opponents or refs. It looks like she doesn't know how to relax much, but that hyper energy and competitiveness is going to result in a lot of goals through her career.
The dominant midfielder is junior Jill Heinemann, who controls the middle of the field and probably has the strongest shot of anyone on the team. She takes many of the Mustangs' free kicks and is a threat to score from anywhere within about 30 yards.
The defense is where Coach Cossaboon's faith in his freshmen is most evident. Susanne Collins is a very strong defender who plays with a poise above her age, but she got hurt Sunday - I don't know how severely. If she's out for a while, that will hurt the team significantly. Ashley Watson is the anchor of the defense, and Alyssa Pembroke is very versatile at the left defender spot - she's very adept at bringing the ball forward on overlap runs and joining the attack. These three freshmen are going to be stalwarts for the Ponies throughout their careers at SMU.
The last line of defense is goalkeeper Amanda Clark, a junior who's tall (5'11") and has very long arms. She took over for former starter Erin McLeod, who took a year off to train with the Canadian National Team.
Winning it all is a tall order for any team, especially one that has so much youth. Of course anything is possible, but I think for now, realistic goals for this team are to win the WAC, win the WAC tournament and make it back to the NCAAs.
T.J. Tomasso is the latest in the line of exceptional SMU goalkeepers. He's not as big (6'0") as his predecessors, 6'6" Byron Foss or 6'4" Tom Presthus (now playing for the Columbus Crew in MLS), but he's technically very sound and is rarely caught out of position. He has very good hands and plays bigger than he is because of his quickness and jumping ability, and he appears fearless when it comes to crashing into the big players opponents send crashing to the net. Through seven games, he's given up less than a goal per game and has pitched four shutouts.
The Mustangs' defense is perhaps the strongest part of the team, where juniors Ross Spencer and Ugo Ihemelu give the team two smart, experienced players who can take forwards out of the game by relying on their speed or going to a physical style -- both are very strong and don't mind dishing out punishment. Coach Hyndman also has added two freshman to the back, and they have answered the challenge. At one outside spot is Mynor Gonzalez, who has played for the National Team in Guatemala, and Jay Needham, who fills the all-important sweeper role (the last line of defense before the goalkeeeper). Both seem to be very poised - almost relaxed - in the back, almost to the point of appearing unflappable. They don't appear intimidated by much of anything.
Kevin Hudson is the only senior on the team, and he plays a defensive midfield position. His role is to help bring the ball out of the back and distribute to his teammates for scoring chances, and patrol the middle of the field, almost as a fifth defender. Because of the relative anonymity of his role, he doesn't get the attention he deserves, but he's a very solid player. He also comes forward on corner kicks and free kicks, where his height (6'2" I think) makes him a target for headers.
The midfielder who gets the most attention is freshman Ramon Nuñez, who was hailed as the best recruit in the nation. He has skills and moves with the ball that are unreal, but at times seems to hold the ball too long, as he's still getting used to the college game and his teammates. But he has an innate understanding of the game, and sees the field so well he reminds me of former All-America Diego Walsh. He's already double-teamed just about every time he touches the ball.
The Mustangs are fairly small up front, where sophomores Duke Hashimoto and Kellen Zindel are both in the 5'6" range. Hashimoto looks like he'll get bumped off the ball a lot, but seems to never run out of gas, and offers high pressure all game long. Remember the guy who used to play for the Dallas Stars, Pat Verbeek, a.k.a. "The Little Ball of Hate"? That's Zindel. Like Hashimoto, he looks too small to play against big defenders, but he's extremely quick and will shoot from anywhere, and he pesters opposing defenders constantly. He always seems to be in the middle of any contact - either drawing it from opponents or dishing it out himself. I'd hate to play against this guy (if I could play at all, of course). He seems to really annoy defenses a lot, and in addition, he seems to smile at defenders when they get really angry with him -- which must be even more obnoxious. Zindel has an extremely powerful shot, and is not bashful about pulling tthe trigger.
Whether the guys can win it all is a tough question. As much as I like Zindel and Hashimoto, the offense needs to pick up -- maybe that happens as Nuñez gets more comfortable. But even if he picks up his scoring, you have three small guys dominating the offense, and you need some more size up front in the NCAA tournament. Then again, if Tomasso and the defense keep shutting out opponents, it's hard to lose, right?
My prediction is that the Ponies win the Missouri Valley Conference title (again) and go three rounds deep in the NCAAs.
OK, methodistmustang, this took a while to write all this. You will be at all the games from now on, right?
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by PonyFan:
OK, methodistmustang, this took a while to write all this. You will be at all the games from now on, right?</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I had planned to go tonight but none of my friends want to watch soccer. I may just have to go alone this year. I have to go Saturday...I'm itching to see an SMU team dominate.
SMU-THE University of Texas
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