Afternoon showers and wet bleachers were not enough to deter a large turn out to the men’s soccer game on Friday against the West Florida Argos.
Friends, family, and fellow Spartans persevered through a rough first half, only to be rewarded with an impressively planned halftime show.
Three vocal volunteers took the field in a test of true skill. Each volunteer was instructed to sprint through a line of clothing that they then had to dress themselves with including socks, shoes, and a women’s soccer jersey all culminating in a shot on goal. Contestant number two’s come from behind win over contestant three reignited a dying crowd.
Meanwhile, Coach Adrian Bush kept control over his team that now faced a four goal deficit.
“I was disappointed in the effort,” said Bush. “We were calm in the locker room.”
The team responded effectively to the cool-headed approach, controlling the flow of the game from the first tap of the second half.
Improved ball handling and better communication started to match the Argos’ dominating speed.
With the ball now predominantly in Argos territory, Spartan fans cheered more enthusiastically behind their team that was down but not defeated.
Defense held the once-charging Argos offense to only two shots on goal for no goals in the second half, a large improvement over the five-for-four ratio of the previous half. The offense also showed new life, creating four shots on goal compared to only one in the first half.
Fans had more to cheer for than just the strong second half surge.
Numerous contests for prizes such as tee shirts, doughnuts and pizza kept hungry spectators on their feet cheering loudly.
Big hits and close shots on the field let the struggling players know their fan’s still stood behind them.
“How do you respond when it’s not going well?” Coach Bush questioned. “It’s the drive not to quit.”
Although the men remained scoreless, their determination and strong performance even when faced with adversity earned them the respect of many proud Spartan spectators.
West Florida was ranked third in the nation, but fell to 20th after a loss earlier in the week.
A total of 357 attended Friday’s game. The record for attendance is over 4,000, from the 1994 National Championship game.
Tampa next takes on Flagler and Christian Brothers in the Tampa Classic Tournament.