The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Mustangs pounce Wildcats

The No. 5 SMU men’s soccer team clinched the Conference USA regular season title on senior night with an emotional 2-0 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night at Westcott Field.

SMU head Coach Tim McClements said that the game was tough to win because of how hard Kentucky worked to win.

“When we got the second goal, I felt like the main thing was to manage the game. Too often during the year, we’ve found a way to give up a goal in that situation and today we didn’t,” McClements said.

“That’s really a testament to the players and their maturity. You can tell we’re getting better every game. We did what we needed to do to win the game,”  he said.

McClements is extremely proud of his senior bunch and how they have performed throughout the regular season.

Goalkeeper Craig Hill, defender Leone Cruz, and midfielders Kekoa Osorio, Josue Soto and Pana Vasquez were all honored in the pre-game senior night ceremony.

McClements discussed the culture of the team and the seniors’ commitment and contribution towards making a difference on the team. The seniors, he explained, have played a large part in changing to how things are done on a day-to-day basis.

“I think we’re playing good soccer now, and I think we’re able to do that because we have the stability of people who are doing the right things over and over and over again – and those are our seniors. We have talented freshmen, but this team’s built on the strength of our older players,” McClements said.

Soto got things started early for the Mustangs as he opened up the scoring in the fifth minute on a free kick from 30 yards out.

“I was actually trying to cross it,” Soto said. “I got lucky, and the goalie came out.”

Less than five minutes later, freshman forward Juan Castillo made a beautiful cross into the box, which allowed fellow freshman midfielder Zach Barnes to bury the ball in the back of the net for his fifth goal of the year.

“Juan [Castillo] crossed the ball and I was there for the simple tap in,” Barnes said. “He did all the work and I was just at the right spot.”

Castillo’s fourth assist of the season gave him his team leading 22nd point of the year and the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.

SMU and Kentucky played very physical soccer the rest of the first half, which resulted in a red card for the Wildcats just four minutes before halftime.

Kentucky lost midfielder Jacob Kemper, who was red-carded after a brutal take, leaving the Wildcats down a men for the rest of the game.

The Mustangs coasted through the second half behind great defense and ball control to secure the 2-0 win.

“The red card took a little wind out of their sails,” McClements said. “In the second half, we were just worried about keeping control and doing the right thing. We were up 2-0, so we didn’t need goals.”

Craig Hill recorded his third shutout of the year and led the Mustangs defensively with five goals.

“It was [a] great feeling coming out here and putting on that kind of performance, and coming out with a clean sheet and the win,” Hill said. “We did what we were supposed to do and limited their chances.”

Barnes was happy to help earn the the win and the conference championship for the seniors.

“As a freshman, we are at the bottom and they’ve gone through everything during their four years —and they set the example for us,” he said. “It’s pretty special to win the championship with them.”

SMU will head to Miami to face Florida International on Friday at 6 p.m.

“When we started off [the season], we set goals for ourselves,” McClements said. “One was to win every game, and we came one short of that, but a good run nonetheless. The first goal after that was to win the regular season conference championship, and we did that.”


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