Tampa soccer stars

by Ben Jansen

The University of Tampa men’s and women’s soccer teams are gearing up for the end of the season, as both teams only have four regular season games remaining. Both teams are in playoff position, as the women are fourth in the Sunshine State Conference standings and the men are ranked eighth. 

The men’s team started off the season strong, going 2-2 in the non-conference to open the year, including a thrilling double overtime win against Thomas University. 

However, since the start of conference play it has been a difficult stretch for UT as they are 2-4-1 in SSC play. That mark currently has them sitting in a tie for eighth, which would not be good enough to make the conference tournament due to tiebreakers.

With every conference game having a spotlight on it, men’s soccer head coach, Adrian Bush said he is looking for team leaders to step up. 

“Key players are really everyone as season ending injuries this year have forced players to step into some roles for the team,” said Bush. “If I had to single out two players–I would say our senior captain Jake Richards who has been the rock of our team the last 4 years. He is really having another great season. And I feel the return of Michael Schessl adds a lot of leadership & presence to our team. He has the ability to change any game & having him back in our lineup makes us a lot better.”

When asked what the team needed to do to move up the standings and secure a bid to the SSC tournament, Bush continued, “I feel we need to have urgency & mentality to lock up a spot in the conference tournament. Although a loss today against the NO. 4 team in the nation is tough, it also served as a great reminder to our team that they can play with anyone if the mentality stays at a premium.”

The women’s team had a polar opposite start to the men. They were only 1-4 in the non-conference slate, but got going when it counted. The Spartans are currently 2-2-1 in conference play, good enough for fourth place in the SSC and could potentially have a home game in the conference tournament.

Coach Erin Switalski spoke very highly of her team.

“I’m really happy with how we reset for the conference slate. We struggled early in the year but we had a new kind of mentality once it started,” said Switalski. “We just took that mindset of every game is massive, and that the next game is always the biggest on the schedule. If we keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be in good shape.”

Switalski also gave credit to the upperclassmen on the team, saying, “We don’t really have one true leader, we’re kind of all just there collectively as a team. The upperclassmen really lead the way for us as a group.”

Even non-soccer fan students at UT are excited about the teams’ performances. “The soccer games are a fun thing to go and watch when you have some down time, so if they can keep their season going by making the playoffs that would really be fun for the whole student body,” said Mike Pascento, sophomore sport management major at UT.

Both teams have four conference games remaining as they make their run at the postseason. The schedule includes Saint Leo, Rollins, Florida Tech, and Florida Southern to close out the regular season, before the SSC Quarter Finals kickoff on Monday, Nov. 11.

Ben Jansen can be reached at benjamin.jansen@spartans.ut.edu

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