By: Cameron Andrade
The University of Tampa’s fall sports are finally upon us, with many things for upcoming and current students to be excited about during the fall season.
As we near the beginning of the regular season for these teams, it will really be a test to see how much their offseason training and hard work pays off. All teams, including men’s soccer, women’s soccer, and our defending women’s volleyball National Champions, will travel hundreds of miles to start off their contrasting journeys, which all leads to the same goal- a national championship.
“I think we should be excited to rally behind one of our sports programs at the school and create an environment the players appreciate,” said UT alumnus Luciano Parrotta. “I think us as fans need to display our support throughout the match to create that club and supporter relationship.”
The men look to bounce back after a second round exit in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament against Auburn-Montgomery in a double overtime loss. They’ll cross paths again in the regular season.
The Spartans were recently ranked number 21 in the nation in the United States Coaches (USC) top 25 coaches poll behind Sunshine State Conference (SSC) rivals Nova Southeastern and Palm Beach Atlantic.
All American and senior forward Omar Thali looks to repeat his career setting year from last season. The forward recorded a career high with 10 goals and seven assists, which led to a team high in total points with 27. The forward looks to recreate his success and bring it into the upcoming season.
Mens soccer starts their season off with a tough matchup against number 24 ranked West Florida, as they travel to Pensacola to face the Argonauts. This is a rematch of last year’s home opener, which resulted in a 3-2 OT loss for the Spartans.
Erin Switalski enters her eighth season as head coach of the women’s soccer team, as she looks to bring her team back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. She looks to improve from their previous season, which ended in a 7-8-1 record with a defeat in the SSC quarterfinals against Rollins.
The Spartans ranked fourth in the 2022 SSC Preseason Coaches Poll, as UT tallied 71 total points with two first place votes. They would finish below Florida Tech, Rollins, and Embry-Riddle who are expected to win the SSC regular season.
“We saw a lot of promise from the women last year, the record may not show it but it shows we were just unlucky at times that the game didn’t go our way,” said UT alumna Kyle Willis.
The women open the regular season with a game against Catawba, as they travel all the way to Salisbury, NC and look for a positive start to the season.
UT received two national championships last season, one of which was in volleyball, with head coach Chris Catanach leading the women to their third national title in seven years.
The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), has the Spartans ranked as the number one team in the country in their preseason coaches poll. UT received 41 of the 47 votes at the number one spot.
The women look to repeat their success in this upcoming season, as they start their championship defense in Charlotte, NC.
“This is a brand new year and we consider it a brand new team,” said Brian Imperiale, associate head coach. “We enter every season with the same mindset and we’re just trying to become the best version of this team.”
Many freshmen have replaced the outgoing seniors from the championship team, with some people wondering if they can carry on that legacy the seniors left with.
“We’re definitely excited to see what our new players can do,” said Imperiale.
The defending champions begin their season at the Queens University Tournament in Charlotte, NC as they look to repeat what they accomplished last season.
Home games will be played in the Bob Martinez Athletic Center.
There are many things to look forward to for the fall sports coming up this season as the Spartans look to continue the legacy of UT sports, win games, and hopefully bring another national title to campus.