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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Post-Walsh Mustangs ‘Burn’ing for rematch

 Post-Walsh Mustangs Burning for rematch
Post-Walsh Mustangs ‘Burn’ing for rematch

Post-Walsh Mustangs ‘Burn’ing for rematch

There was something missing from the SMU soccer team on the first day of spring practice this year. No. 11 wasn’t there.

In 2003, life without Diego Walsh will begin. The two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year is gone.

Over 30 percent of the team’s goals are gone. So why is there an aura of confidence surrounding the Mustang soccer team?

It certainly isn’t because of the departure of senior leaders and first team MVC performers Kevin Friedland and Tito Suarez.

It’s because the 2003 version of the Ponies will personify the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

With spring practice having just concluded, that’s the feeling surrounding SMU soccer.

“I think spring practice went great, we really came together as a team,” junior sweeper Ross Spencer said. “We have learned to rely on each other more instead of just Diego.”

Replacing Walsh will be the top priority for the Mustangs. Right now, the heir apparent to the throne is junior Jake Johnson, the likely candidate for the starting center midfield position Walsh vacated.

Johnson started only one game last season, but showed signs of reliability and even displayed some flash in his two goals he scored on the year.

However, don’t hand him the reigns just yet. Johnson will have to beat out incoming freshman sensation Ramon Nunez. The Dallas native is one of the most heralded recruits in the nation.

In fact, one recruiting service said of Nunez, “Ramon is a dynamic central midfielder who has the potential to play in the MLS now. His desire and dedication to his sport is second to none. He is one of the best impact players in the country.”

Look for senior midfielder Kevin Hudson to pick up much of the slack also. He is the captain and on-field leader of the team.

“He has great control on the ground and in the air . . . he has it all,” Spencer said.

If fans don’t believe the hype surrounding the 2003 Mustangs, they will have the opportunity to judge for themselves tonight at Wescott field.

The Ponies play host to MLS’s Dallas Burn at 7 p.m. Both the Burn and the Mustangs will be out for revenge, as the first scrimmage between the two teams ended in a 0-0 tie.

The game is certain to serve as a good measuring stick for life after Walsh, but it will also be exciting for the players as they get to play against professionals.

“They are pros getting paid to play. That pumps us up because that is where we want to get,” Spencer said.

Regardless of the outcome, the future looks bright for the Mustangs, even with the departure of Walsh, Friedland and Suarez.

As is true with any powerhouse program when you lose a few special players, SMU believes that it’s not rebuilding . . . it’s reloading.

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