The University of Tampa men’s soccer team is one game away from playing for a national championship with home field advantage.
A 3-2 come from behind win against Tusculum granted UT a spot in the final four, the first time they have earned a trip there since 2001.
‘Honestly I’m most excited for the guys, for the players to have this experience and to go through that, that’s the most exciting for me,’ stated coach Adrian Bush.
Bush is in familiar territory, having won a national championship with the Spartans as a player in 1994.
Playing at home for the chance to advance to the national championship is an opportunity that many teams would love to have, but the home field advantage for the Spartans will only prove to be helpful if the students and community from UT come out to show their support.
‘I think it’s a challenge and an opportunity for the student body to come out and really push a team to a national championship,’ Bush said. ‘You can have home field all you want, but if the school isn’t packing that stadium then what good is it?’
With an immaculate home record, there is a well-deserved amount of confidence for the Spartans. But there is no bragging about the success of this team being done on or off the field. Big games have been won and given their share of celebration, but the team is always looking ahead to the next game.
‘We don’t care about the last game, we’re just focused on the next game,’ forward Pascal Milien said. ‘As a team we’re happy, we’re satisfied but in the back of our heads we’ve still got two games left to play.’
Milien exited the second overtime of the game early after being taken down by a Tusculum defender. Trainers from both teams initially thought that his collarbone had been broken, but luckily the x-rays were negative, leaving Milien with a sprained shoulder and allowing him to play in the semifinal game.
Lister Warren replaced Milien on the front line and shortly after scored the game-winning goal.’ ‘
Milien added that in order to continue on their winning ways, the team needs to stay focused on their goal of winning a national championship.
‘We have to keep working hard and take one game at a time and be the last ones standing on the field,’ he said.
Regardless of the outcome, the weekend will be a memorable one for everyone involved, especially the players.
‘Whether you win or you lose, you’re not going to forget it,’ Bush explained. ‘It’s going to always be in your mind, you will always remember this weekend.’
Olivia Glynn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.