By: Matteo Herrera
The University of Tampa men’s soccer striker, Omar Thali, comes from Zug, Switzerland. He received SSC Offensive Player of the Week for scoring three goals in one week.
Thali scored two goals against West Florida, ranked number 18. The Spartans were losing 2-0 at the beginning of the game, and they substituted Thali into the match, which helped push the game into overtime.
“I was injured at the time, two meniscus surges in the same knee, missed preseason that’s why they substituted me and then I scored two goals 2-2, lost in overtime 3-2,” said Thali. “Then on that Sunday against Auburn-Montgomery, we won 1-0 and I scored the one goal.”
Beating Auburn-Montgomery was the Spartan’s first win of the new season. Thali is recovering from his injuries, especially since he cares heavily about nutrition, exercise, and sleep. He is also a human performance major, so it goes hand-in-hand with everything that he does.
This is only Thali’s second season with UT. Last year in his first season, he only played eight games. Yet, he’s expressed how excited he is for this upcoming season, especially starting with receiving the offensive player of the week.
“We are better than last season, this season we got some new players, we are quite good, we won the Rowdy’s cup, we played against USF,” said Thali. “We lost the last five times, but this year we won, so that’s a good sign, and we’ve only lost one game in the preseason so far.”
UT’s men’s soccer has 42 players on the team, primarily due to having a practice squad.
“Chemistry is terrific in the team, and we have a good defense; that was the problem two years ago, our defense wasn’t that experienced.” said Thali. “We are more aggressive too, and we have technical players in the offense so chemistry is fundamental, and it is perfect.”
There is hope for the upcoming season that more players will not be injured or test positive for COVID-19.
If a player tests positive, they would have to be quarantined for ten days. The men’s soccer team currently has two players who tested positive. If the two positive players had three positive tests simultaneously, they wouldn’t be able to practice as a team and would have to forfeit their games until they are cleared.
The team stays mentally positive, especially with their goalkeeper, Adam Forster, who was awarded the SSC Defensive Player of the week. He had four saves when they beat West Alabama 4-0. He also came up with a vital save against Clayton State when they beat them 3-0.
UT’s men’s soccer team had their fourth straight shutout against Barry and will play again away at Eckerd on Wednesday, Sept. 22.