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

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Mustang soccer on the rise

Tim McClements walked slowly off Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. – his heart had been shattered.

The Conference USA Coach of the Year replayed critical moments in the game in his head over and over again still trying to comprehend that the dream was over. His No. 5 -seeded SMU squad was going home after being eliminated by North Carolina on penalty kicks in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

But make no mistake, McClements kept his composure and held his head high just as he had done all season. McClements had led the Mustangs to one of their most successful seasons ever in only his third year on the Hilltop as a head coach.

SMU – a national soccer powerhouse – has thrived under the guidance of their charismatic and cunning leader. With tremendous amounts of talent and offensive firepower returning from last year’s squad, the McClements led Mustangs  are poised to make an even deeper run in 2011. 

After leading the team in points (25) and tying for first in goals (10) last year, senior Arthur Ivo is undoubtedly SMU’s unquestioned leader. The NSCAA Second Team All-American and Conference USA Co-MVP was the focal point in the Mustangs’ offense last season, playing both midfielder and forward. Ivo was a dangerous offensive threat around the net, but was also unselfish with the ball, dishing out five assists.

Sophomore Juan Castillo will team-up with Ivo to create one of the most feared goal-scoring tandems in the conference. Castillo busted onto the scene as a true freshman last season, scoring a goal in his first ever collegiate game against Missouri State. The 5-foot-7, 160-pound forward never looked backed as he tallied 10 goals including four game winners en-route to being named Conference USA Freshman of the Year.

The Mustangs possess a talented array of midfielders, but fellow sophomores Robbie Derschang and Zach Barnes stand out amongst the pack and were two of SMU’s most prolific contributors in 2010. Both were named to the All-Conference Freshman Team after netting five goals. Rounding out the group of gifted midfielders is senior Peyton Hickey, junior T.J. Nelson, sophomore Max Rockwell and red-shirt freshman Tyler Engel, who all expect to play key roles in the rotation.

SMU’s biggest question marks will come on defense as savvy veteran defender Leone Cruz – selected in the second round of the 2011 MLS Draft by the Seattle Sounders — was lost to graduation. However, the Mustangs do return a pair of ESPN Academic All-Americans in Diogo de Almeida and 2011 team captain Adam Still, who became a household name after scoring a 75-yard goal against No. 17 Tulsa.

Extraordinary goals against Tulsa seem to be all the rage among SMU defenders as red-shirt junior Ryan Rosenbaum netted a 95-yard game-winning goal against the Golden Hurricane in 2009. Video footage of the goal quickly became an internet phenomenon. Rosembaum is expected to compete for a full time starting job after appearing in only four games last season.

The Mustangs also will have to deal with the loss of former team captain and three-year starter Craig Hill. Sophomore Jaime Ibarra and red-shirt junior Juan Robles will duke it out for the starting spot. Robles appears to be the frontrunner after earning NJCAA Second Team All-American honors at Tyler Community College in 2009.

Joining SMU in the fall will be Texas Gatorade Player of the Year Aaron Simmons, who was rated as the No. 38 recruit in the nation after registering 16 goals and 10 assists as a senior at Mansfield High. Accompanying Simmons will be Will Smith, who earned the same distinction for Oklahoma.

The Mustangs will open the 2011 regular season at home against William & Mary – a rematch of last year’s thrilling Sweet 16 game that saw SMU advance to the Elite Eight after a 1-0 victory- on Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.

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