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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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Student interest still low at Mustang soccer games

According to worldsoccer.com, soccer is the world’slargest spectator sport. It’s evident in that a cumulativein-home audience of 28.8 billion viewers watched the World Cup in2002. In addition, over one billion watched the championship game.The weekly broadcast of the English Premier League reaches 163countries attracting an audience of 550 million.

Yet at SMU, less than 200 students attend each of theuniversity’s soccer games. SMU soccer ranks high among theuniversity’s athletic programs. Both teams have achievednational recognition for the past several years.

The men’s team is currently ranked No. 3 in the NationalSoccer Coaches Association of America/adidas Poll (NSCAA/adidasPoll).

The women’s team is ranked No. 25 in the Soccer Times.comCoaches poll. SMU students, however, seem uninterested anduninformed about the soccer program, even after its outstandingresults.

According to the SMU Mustangs Web site, the women’s teammaintains a striking .877 all-time winning percentage in WesternAthletic Conference games.

John Cossaboon, head coach, captured his 100th career winagainst Tulsa last month. In October, the NSCAA/Adidas Poll rankedthe lady Mustangs No. 20 in the nation and sixth in scoringoffense. The women soccer team’s expectations are of no smallcaliber.

According to The Dallas Morning News, SMU is on track foran NCAA Tournament berth.

Recently crowned WAC conference champions, the lady Mustangs arethe top seed for this weekend’s WAC Tournament in Hawaii.

But SMU’s home games present an almost depressing sight.Spectators are scarce in Westcott Field’s bleachers as SMUtakes the field, beating rival after rival. The crowd’scheering barely exceeds the volume of the players’ screamingon the field.

Autumn Browning, a midfielder for SMU, is well aware of the poorgame attendance.

“It’s disappointing when the opposing team has morefans in the stands than you do at a home game,” saidBrowning.

Browning, a talented freshman, has scored five goals this seasonto help the lady Mustangs climb to a 6-1-1 WAC record.

“SMU has a strong soccer program, both men’sand women’s, and it’s unfortunate when bothnationally-ranked soccer teams don’t receiveoverwhelming support from their school,” Browningsaid.

The men’s program, though ranked third by the NSCAA/adidasPoll, does not attract many more fans than the women’s team.The statistics and accomplishments of the team place men’ssoccer among the better, if not the best, athletic programs atSMU.

According to the SMUMustangs.com, SMU is the only NCAA DivisionI men’s soccer program in the state of Texas.

With a .770 all-time winning percentage, the team’ssuccessful 2004 season was not a surprise. The team finished withan impressive 8-0-0 Missouri Valley Conference record; in part as aresult of the team almost doubling their opponents’ shots ongoal. The Mustangs captured their fourth regular season MVC titlelast week. Six former Mustangs now play professionally and MynorGonzalez, a sophomore defender, played for Guatemala’snational team in 2003.

The Mustangs owe much of their success to their head coach,Schellas Hyndman, who stands among the most respected soccercoaches in the country.

As SMUMustangs.com points out, “His winning percentage(.773) ranks second among active Division I head men’s soccercoaches. His 405 victories also rank him second among activemen’s Division I soccer coaches.”

Hyndman, entering his 21st season as SMU’s head coach,stands as the university’s most accomplished coach with over300 victories. Yet through the years he has encountered a lack ofsupport for the program.

“Having coached here for the last 21 years, I find itdisappointing that we do not get the attention from the media andthe fan support that I think all of our sports deserve,”Hyndman said. “There are times that we would rather be on theroad playing in front of a large vocal crowd.”

The team encounters more attention outside its own university.In fact, SMU’s rosters include players from diverse locales.Gonzalez, Sami Yasin and Duke Hashimoto came to SMU from Guatemala,Japan and Hawaii respectively.

The women’s team attracted Adria Campbell from Hawaii andErin MacCallum from Canada. The international appeal of SMU’sprogram among soccer-centered countries certainly proves the greatquality of this overlooked sport. Great individual players alsore-affirm the programs’ quality.

Often SMU players earn conference and national honors. KimberlyBailey recently earned the WAC Freshman of the Year honor. SMUleads all teams with four student-athletes on the All-WAC firstteam and one on the second.

Sophomore Alex Smith, a member of the men’s team, ranksfirst in goals per game on the WAC statistics. Senior goalkeeperT.J. Tomasso recently posted his sixth shutout this season and nowtotals 24.5 career shutouts.

Oddly, the individual player achievements and theprogram’s success do not seem to appeal to SMU students. Moststudents have never even attended a soccer game and remain largelyunaware about the many great things about the soccer program.

“I’ve met some of the soccer guys when I’vebeen out, they all seem great . . .” Kelly Powers, an SMUstudent said. “But I don’t know much about how they areon the field.”

Lauren Wheat, a sophomore at SMU, enjoys soccer and knows aboutthe great program at SMU.

“I do know that our soccer program is supposed to be greatand our men’s team has been ranked very high in the past fouryears,” Wheat said. “I have gone to one soccer game atthe end of my first semester at SMU. Personally, I would go toanother soccer game before any of the other [sports].”

The reality of the support for the program hits hard upon asoccer fan’s heart. It seems like SMU students do not reallyappreciate what they have, while others would love to have such agreat program at their own school.

Alonso Cordero, a hardcore soccer fan and talented player,currently attends the University of Texas at Arlington where heplays for UTA’s club team. He envies SMU’s soccerprogram and admires the team.

“SMU soccer is amazing,” Cordero said. “Thequality of the players and coaches is among the best in the nationand definitely the best in Texas. But it is sad that I know moreabout SMU soccer than some of the SMU students themselves.

“I’ve been to one SMU game, and the fan base ispathetic. And I bet most of the fans were the girlfriends andfamilies of the players . . . it is sad.”

Few attend the games, yet those fans will always remain as thehardcore supporters of the soccer program. They support the soccerprogram and stay informed about the many accomplishments and honorsachieved by both teams.

There is no doubt the nationally-ranked SMU soccer teams deservea wider fan base and more student interest at their home games, andthe team would definitely benefit if students gave its games atry.

In the mean time, SMU’s top-seed MVC men’s team willhost eighth-seed Vanderbilt on Friday at Westcott field for an MVCtournament match at 7:30pm on Friday. The women are currentlyplaying the WAC tournament in Hawaii.

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