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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Men fall short in C-USA crown, prepare for NCAA tournament

SMU Dance major Landes Dixon performing P-17126 Sunday during the Meadows Dance Departments Sharp Show.
SMU Dance major Landes Dixon performing “P-17126” Sunday during the Meadows Dance Department’s Sharp Show.

Senior T.J. Nelson chases the ball against Tulsa on Oct. 3 — the team the Mustangs ultimately fell to in the Conference USA Championship game on Nov. 11. (Mark Reese/The Daily Campus)

After advancing to the final round of the C-USA Tournament for the second year in a row, SMU fell to Tulsa 5-0 Sunday at Regions Park in Alabama.

The Mustangs clinched the Conference-USA title after finishing 6-2 in conference play and was the top seed going into the tournament – earning them a first round bye.

SMU beat Kentucky in the semifinals on Nov. 9. The game was tied 2-2 after two over time periods and headed into penalty kicks.

SMU’s freshman John Lujano scored the first goal, bringing the score to 1-0.

Mustang goal keeper Jaime Ibarra then saved Kentucky’s first shot.

After goals by SMU’s Eddie Puskarich and Andrew Morales, Michael King sealed the victory with his kick to lift SMU over Kentucky 4-1.

SMU headed to the C-USA championship to face Tulsa, a team they had narrowly beaten 1-0 on Oct. 3.

Unfortunately, this time the Golden Hurricane left no doubt in the 5-0 rout of SMU.

Tulsa led 3-0 at the half and had closed the scoring by the 68th minute.

It was the worst and most disappointing loss suffered by the Mustangs who are now 10-5-4 for the year.

The SMU team must dust itself off and prepare for the NCAA tournament.

In the past two years SMU has made the tournament and has only missed it twice in the last 18.

The Mustangs have 28 postseason appearances with a 31-22-7 record.

In 2000 and 2005 the Mustangs advanced to the College Cup. In 2010 SMU reached the Elite Eight but were eliminated by No. 4 North Carolina on penalty kicks.

Thursday’s matchup will mark the first time the two teams have ever face one another.

Despite finishing in sixth place in the Big South, Winthrop won the conference title on Sunday to earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Eagles will be led by Alex Isern who has 26 points (9 goals, 8 assists).

Thursday’s winner will battle No. 10 seed Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Heading into the NCAA Tournament, SMU has accumulated a number of awards.

Ibarra was awarded Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He was also selected First Team All-C-USA.

Head coach Tim McClements is the Conference USA Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Morales was named third-team All-C-USA, and Lujano and King were named to the C-USA All-Freshman team.

Senior and Team Captain T.J. Nelson, along with junior Juan Castillo and sophomore Morales were named to the C-USA All-Tournament Team.

Nelson and sophomores Tyler Engel, Damian Rosales and Aaron Simmons made the All-Conference USA second team. 

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