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2000 Men's Soccer Outlook


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July 27, 2000

Outlook-

The Tulsa men's soccer team enters its first season of the new millennium by traveling back to the past. The Hurricane begins its second tour of duty as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2000.

TU returns to the MVC after spending the last four seasons as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. Tulsa was an original member of the Valley from 1991-95.

With its return to the MVC, Tulsa will look to rekindle its early success as a Valley school. Tulsa won the MVC regular season and conference tournament title in 1991, followed by a regular season runner-up finish in 1993 and a third-place overall finish in 1995.

TU has cracked the top-25 polls in two of the last three seasons, which in turn, has given the school national recognition. This year's roster features 10 newcomers from as far west as Oregon, as far east as England and as far south as South America.

Behind all of the success of the Tulsa men's soccer program is sixth-year Head Coach Tom McIntosh. In just five seasons, McIntosh picked up his 50th career victory in 1999 and boasts an overall mark of 51-40-2, but is 35-22-2 over the last three seasons.

McIntosh led Tulsa to two WAC Tournament runner-up finishes in 1997 and 1998 and a second overall finish in 1999.

"The Missouri Valley Conference should be one of the top four or five conferences in America," McIntosh said. "There are no easy games. We're excited about being back in the Valley because many of the schools are similar to Tulsa in size and some of the schools are private institutions. There are some rivalries that will become great rivalries now."

Tulsa's 2000 squad consists of 13 returning letterwinners, including seven starters from last year's 9-8 team. But perhaps the key to success for the Hurricane this season will be the return of senior Robbie Aristodemo, a three-time all-WAC first team selection. Aristodemo missed the entire 1999 campaign with a leg injury. With four veteran seniors and five seasoned juniors, the Hurricane will once again set high goals for the upcoming season.

"Our goals are to win the Missouri Valley Conference title, qualify for the NCAA Tournament and advance to the NCAA Final Four. We had a great spring and we managed to answer a lot of questions heading into the fall season. I think the hard work last spring has prepared us to be successful this fall," McIntosh said.

Forwards

The forward position will be in very good hands with the senior duo of Eric Dominguez and Kyle Smith leading the Hurricane attack.

Last season, Dominguez was an all-WAC first team selection despite playing a majority of the season as a midfielder because of team injuries. In his final season, Dominguez returns to his natural position.

Smith was TU's third-leading scorer last season with four goals and one assist for nine points.

Rounding out the forward assault will be junior Brent Bayouth and freshman Stephen Warwick. Bayouth, a native of Sapulpa, transferred to Tulsa from Northeastern State University prior to the spring season.

Warwick hails from Morpeth, England. He is just the second English soccer player in school history.

"Eric and Kyle should make a great tandem up front. Although they have never played together, we will certainly count on their leadership. Brent had a real good spring for us and Stephen should make an immediate contribution. This group should give us a solid attack," McIntosh said.

Midfielders

Aristodemo returns to anchor the center midfield. In 1998, he was second on the team in scoring with five goals and six assists for 16 points and was named to the all-Midwest first team. Aristodemo ranks ninth among TU's career assists leaders with18.

Joining Aristodemo in the middle will be junior Chris Spears and sophomores Julian Gaitan and Mario Gonzalez.

Spears has been very productive in his first two seasons at Tulsa. He has played in 36 games and earned starts in 24 contests and has career numbers of five goals and three assists for 13 points.

Gaitan played in 14 games as a freshman and recorded two goals and two assists for six points.

Patrolling the wide side of the midfield will be a cluster of players led by senior Shawn McCullough. Over the last two seasons, he has produced seven goals and five assists for 19 points.

Sophomore Dustin Crane, who had a good spring and showed great improvement from a year ago, will be opposite McCullough out wide. Providing depth will be freshmen Ganzalo Sanchez, Bryan Rudd, sophomore Luke Meriwether and senior Brian McFarland.

"The midfield will be the strength of our team this season as far as depth and experience is concerned. Robbie is probably as healthy now as he has been over the last two years," McIntosh said.

Defenders

The TU defense returns a very seasoned group of veterans and McIntosh thinks his backfield could be one of the best in the country.

Leading the way are juniors Giancarlo Barzotti, Erik Block, Nasser Khalil and sophomores Derek Meyers and Matt Yeager.

Barzotti, a two-year starter, has 31 starts in 32 career games played. Block started 10 of 12 games as a defender last season, while Khalil started 15 of 16 contests during his rookie season in 1999.

Meyers led all freshmen in scoring last season and was named to the all-WAC second-team. Although Yeager played in just one game as a freshman, he made considerable strides during the spring campaign.

Freshmen Nic Arrington and Chuck Falkenberg will compete for playing time in the backfield.

"This is a very good unit of players. They each understand the importance of working together and that they must perform very well for our team to be successful. During the spring, they provided great cover for one another and each of them has good size and showed great ball control. Hopefully, our hard work will carry over to the fall season," McIntosh said.

Goalkeepers

The biggest question mark heading into the season will be in goal. Sophomore Brent Salter is the Hurricane's only returning player who logged any serious minutes in goal a year ago. Salter started three of the six games he played and recorded 15 saves and one shutout.

"Brent will be the key for us this season. He earned the starting spot in goal during the spring campaign. He has quick feet, he's very good at covering crosses and he's turned into a solid shot stopper. He may be a bit smaller than other goalkeepers, but he makes up for it with his ability and work ethic," McIntosh said.

True freshman Terry Boss will back up Salter, but with time, should be able to compete and challenge for the position.

The Schedule

As Tulsa celebrates its 20th season of men's soccer, the Hurricane will face perhaps its toughest schedule in recent years.

TU will battle three 1999 NCAA Tournament teams (Creighton, SMU and Southwest Missouri State) and will square off against five teams who finished among the Central Region's top-10 teams (Bradley, Creighton, SMU, Southwest Missouri State and Vanderbilt). With the additions of SMU, TCU and Tulsa to a conference already stacked with top-25 programs, the Valley should be one of the elite conferences in the nation in 2000.

For the first time in four years, Tulsa opens the season at home. On Sept. 1, TU will host Pac-10 Conference member Oregon State.

A week later, TU journeys to Las Vegas to participate in the UNLV Tournament. Tulsa opens the two-day event against an up-and-coming Loyola Marymount team on Sept. 8. Two days later, the Hurricane meets Jacksonville for the first time in school history.

Tulsa travels south of the Red River to Dallas, Texas, to play in the SMU Tournament. TU opens against George Mason (9/15) in a first-time meeting before facing former WAC foe UNLV a day later (9/16).

After a one-year hiatus, Tulsa and cross-town rival Oral Roberts renews its rivalry in the Mazzio's T-Town Shootout at the ORU Soccer Field on Sept. 21.

TU closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule at home against Drury on Sept. 24. Tulsa opens conference play at home against Drake on Sept. 29. TU then hosts an always-tough Creighton squad on Oct. 1.

The Hurricane travels to the metroplex for dates against TCU (10/6) and SMU (10/8).

TU begins a four-game homestand, its longest of the season, against Eastern Illinois on Oct. 13. Tulsa then hosts Bradley (10/15), Western Kentucky (10/20) and Evansville (10/22).

Tulsa heads to Music City, U.S.A, to battle Belmont (10/27) and Vanderbilt (10/29) in Nashville, Tenn.

The Hurricane concludes the regular season in Springfield, Mo., on Nov. 2, against defending MVC champion Southwest Missouri State.

"Every game will be key for us. With all the great teams, each game will be a battle. During the conference season, we will play two games a week for five straight weeks. The last team standing will probably win the MVC title," McIntosh said.

Expectations for the 2000 season will be no different than any other year at Tulsa. The Hurricane will set its sights on the conference title and look to make a run toward an NCAA Tournament appearance. Tulsa would like nothing better than to replicate its 1991 season in its second time around as a Valley member.