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TU Men's Soccer Looks to Make MVC, NCAA Title Run in `04

Tulsa senior Kyle Brown (right) and junior All-American Ryan Pore (left) were two of the nation's leading scorers in 2003.  The duo combined for 84 points on  32 goals and 20 assists.
Tulsa senior Kyle Brown (right) and junior All-American Ryan Pore (left) were two of the nation's leading scorers in 2003. The duo combined for 84 points on 32 goals and 20 assists.
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July 28, 2004

The future is now for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane men's soccer team. TU enters the 2004 campaign with one of the most experienced teams in school history. Tulsa will look to capitalize on last year's gains and take the Tulsa men's soccer program to new heights.

One year ago, TU proved once again it was one of the top teams in America. The Golden Hurricane posted a 13-6-1 overall mark, a second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and was nationally ranked for 11 straight weeks, including as a high as No. 10.

This season, Tulsa returns 17 letterwinners, including seven starters, and its 10-member recruiting class has already received a No. 24 national ranking from CollegeSoccerNews.com. Among the returners is a five-member senior class that has played an important role in producing 32 victories over the past three seasons. TU's 2004 seniors include Terry Boss, Kyle Brown, Jamie Dabney, Michael Haynes and Scott Kincaid. This group will be heavily relied on for its leadership and experience in the fall.

"Our goal, or 'prize' as we refer to it, hasn't changed despite last year's success," 10th-year Head Coach Tom McIntosh said. "We still want to win a conference championship and an NCAA title. I think we are better equipped this season to achieve both of those goals than we were a year ago. This team has improved from last season and our expectations are getting higher and higher."

"One of our other main goals is to take one game at a time. We started this goal three years ago and have built toward it ever since. I don't think there's a lot of difference in the top-ranked team in the country and No. 150. One mistake can sometimes determine a win or a loss. Our emphasis this year is to start quicker than our opponent," McIntosh added.

Tulsa will face four 2003 NCAA Tournament teams this season, including Kentucky, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and conference rivals Creighton and SMU. The Hurricane will host seven home contests, including Oral Roberts, Penn State, Yale and MVC rivals Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Southwest Missouri State and Evansville.

TU's forward position will once again be the strength of the team. Last season, the Hurricane's forwards combined for 33 of the team's 50 total goals and 22 of 47 assists to finish with 88 of TU's 147 total points.

Tulsa features perhaps the nation's best forward combination in Brown and junior All-American Ryan Pore. Brown and Pore combined for 32 goals and 20 assists for 84 points last season. Brown is a three-time member of all-MVC First Team, while Pore was named the Valley's Most Valuable Player and was selected to the all-conference first team last year. Both players were also named to the all-Midwest Region First Team and finished among the top-16 scorers in the country in 2003. Pore ranked second, and Brown finished ranked 16th nationally.

Sophomore Jonathan Lange returns to provide solid depth to the Hurricane attack. Last season, Lange played in 11 games and accounted for one goal and two assists for four points.

Freshman Todd Goddard begins his first season at TU and the Tulsa native should challenge for playing time right away.

"I believe Kyle and Ryan are the best forward combination in the country. They do a great job of not only creating chances for themselves, but more importantly for each other. They are certainly one of the keys to success for our team this season. Jonathan and Todd will compete for playing time. Jonathan is tall and plays well with his back to the goal and is also good in the air, while Todd is a lot like Kyle and Ryan, but a little more aggressive," McIntosh said.

Tulsa's midfield position was the hardest hit by graduation. TU lost the services of Kris Glasser, Mario Gonzalez, Bryan Rudd and Stephen Warwick. The foursome registered eight goals and 14 assists for 30 points last year.

However, Tulsa's midfield and overall scoring attack was bolstered during the offseason with the addition of junior-transfers Lawson Vaughn and Daniel Wasson. Vaughn played the last two years at South Carolina, while Wasson played two seasons at Air Force, and concluded the 2003 campaign as the nation's fourth-leading scorer with 17 goals and two assists for 36 points. So, when the Hurricane takes the field against Stanford in the season opener, TU's high scoring offense will feature three of the top-returning scorers in the country.

Both Vaughn and Wasson will play in the center-midfield spots and provide the Hurricane with two legitimate scoring threats.

Joining Wasson as an attacking midfielder will be junior Matt Wiley. Wiley came on strong toward the end of last season and made his only two starts of the year in NCAA Tournament games against Oakland and top-ranked UCLA.

Along with Vaughn at defensive midfield, sophomores Matt Thomas and Cary Wicker will also see a lot of action this fall. Thomas started in three of his 15 games played and produced one goal last season. Wicker, who was named to the MVC All-Newcomer Team, started 20 of 21 games and tallied one goal and one assist for three points.

"Our midfield is also one our strengths this season. There may be as many as six players in the game at one time in the midfield and we also have solid depth to go with proven starters," McIntosh said. "Daniel and Lawson give us a scoring threat out of the midfield that we have not had for the last three years. Daniel can do many things very well. He passes well and has excellent field vision, and I believe he can be one of the keys to our attack this season. Lawson is a very dynamic player who covers a lot of ground quickly. He passes the ball very well and also makes good decisions."

"Matt Wiley has become more of a creator because his distribution has improved considerably. Matt Thomas really came on during the spring. He can help us maintain possession and is very good at moving the ball. Cary is a versatile player. He could see time in both the defensive midfield or as a center-back in the defense. He is very mobile and good in the air," McIntosh added.

Playing on the left side of the midfield will be sophomore Haden Snyder and the freshmen duo of Brian Bixby and Eric Burkholder. Snyder is a natural left-footed midfielder, who played in five games last season and earned one starting assignment. Bixby is also a natural left-footed player with good size and speed, while Burkholder, who hails from nearby Broken Arrow, Okla., is a very quick and speedy player.

On the right side of the midfield will be Dabney and sophomore Michael Clarke. Dabney is a three-year starter, who gives the team great energy and has a great work ethic. He also provides the midfield with versatility and has the ability to score at any time. Last season, Dabney started 16 of 20 games and notched three goals and three assists for nine points.

Clarke saw action in 14 games a year ago and earned one start, but more importantly gained much needed experience as a freshman.

Rounding out the midfield will be juniors Paul Davalos and Justin Roman. Davalos played in two games for TU last season, while Roman played in four games.

"Haden missed the spring because he was studying overseas, but I believe he will provide us with quality minutes this fall," McIntosh said. "Brian runs off the ball well and will provide the left side with good service and balance, while Eric is an ambidextrous player who is very good one-on-one and I think he will be more of a 'utility' player eventually in our midfield."

"Jamie is such a versatile player for us. He gives us good service off crosses, he is mobile enough to come inside and he also has great stamina. Michael is a very skillful player, who will play more forward this season. Paul is technically sound and will provide is with good depth, while Justin is another 'utility' player who will play where ever we need him in the midfield, McIntosh added.

Tulsa's defense is also a deep area, but will need to work well together during the preseason to mesh the returners with a number of newcomers.

TU will be in good hands on the left side with the return of Kincaid, who is a three-year starter. Last season, he was named to the all-MVC First Team and to the all-Midwest Region Third Team. He started in 19 of 20 games and recorded two assists. Playing behind Kincaid on the left side will be freshman Kevin White.

The center of the Tulsa defense will be anchored by Haynes or possibly Wicker. Haynes played through an injury-riddled season last year. He managed to start 18 of 20 games despite the injury, but TU was 0-2 without him in the lineup. Haynes provides TU with valuable leadership and experience in the back.

Competing for playing time in the middle of the TU defense will be the duo of sophomore Kyle Forthaus and freshman Greg McKenna. Forthaus saw action in just one game as a freshman, but had a solid spring campaign and should see more playing time this fall. Much like Wicker, McKenna is another big player in the TU defense that is very quick and mobile, and also good in the air.

On the right side of the Hurricane defense will be sophomore Brian McCurdy and junior Drew Williamson. McCurdy played in the midfield last season, and will make the move to defender in 2004. He started nine of 14 games during his freshman season and collected two assists. Williamson, who started five of 16 games as a sophomore, is a very quick player and a good defensive marker.

"Scott and Michael are both three-year starters and bring a great deal of experience to our defense. Scott is very strong and attacks well. He was voted the best left-back in the MVC in 2003 and is just a rock-solid player. Michael is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the nation," McIntosh said.

"Kevin is not a natural left-footed player, but can play anywhere in the back with his versatility. Greg is a big player, but is technically sound and moves well for someone of his size. Kyle has benefited from defending Kyle and Ryan every day in practice and is a much-improved defender. Brian has good vision and excellent speed. He will give us the ability to possess the ball and attack out of the back, while Drew is technically sound, and has greatly improved his decision making," McIntosh added.

If the Golden Hurricane is to make a MVC title run and advance deep into the NCAA Tournament, it will have to find more consistency from its goalkeepers. Last season, TU earned just five shutouts and allowed 28 goals and many times was forced to come from behind to pick up a victory.

Boss is TU's lone returning goalkeeper from the 2004 season. In his first year as a starter, he earned a starting assignment in the first 13 games before giving way to Justin Durst late in the season. Boss collected 57 saves and allowed 16 goals, but more importantly led TU to a 9-3-1 record. However, McIntosh has brought in three other players to contend with Boss for the starting position.

Junior transfer Brad Lowyns was an All-America player coming out of high school and signed with Rutgers. He redshirted during his only season with the Scarlet Knights and opted to play at Mercer County Community College. During his two seasons at MCCC, he led the team to back-to-back NJCAA Tournament runner-up finishes.

Freshmen Dominic Cervi and Tyrel Lacey are both Oklahoma natives and will also compete for a starting spot. Cervi is a two-time Daily Oklahoman Defensive Player of the Year from Norman, while Lacey starred at Jenks High School.

"All four of these players are quality goalkeepers. Goalkeeper will be the most competitive spot on the team and should make us better. Terry had a great spring and shutout the Kansas City Wizards in an exhibition game. He has become a better decision maker and is much improved over year ago. Brad already has two years of collegiate experience under his belt, and is also a very good decision maker. Dominic is a big, agile player, who was a two-sport athlete in high school, while Tyrel has good size and is a good shot stopper," McIntosh said.