Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colleges: Spartans eager for opening game

With its regular season opener two days away, the No.3 University of Tampa men’s soccer team is eager for the regular season to get underway.

At the forefront of that sentiment is Coach Adrian Bush, who enters his fifth season as the Spartans' coach when they play Florida Memorial on Thursday night. Of course, for Bush, the excitement of game day doesn’t just bring a sense of expectation to the opening game of the season.

“I think if you are a competitor, before every match you should be excited,” Bush said. “I think there’s a difference between excitement and nerves, hopefully you can blend that together and be at your best come kickoff. Whether you’re a coach or a player, I think you get excited come the games, and I’m already not sleeping much, I’m excited, ready to go.”

Following a second straight Division II Final Four appearance, where the Spartans lost 3-2 to Cal State Dominguez Hills in overtime, UT has set a return to the Final Four, and a national title, as the goal for this season.

“I think it’s been pretty similar,” defender Dan Ingvarsson said of the Spartans’ training camp. “The only difference is this year we have a focus on getting into the Final Four again, and trying to win it this year. We lost in the semifinals last year, and it was bitter. This year we have a chance again because we’re hosting the Final Four. We’re hoping we’ll be back again only this time lifting the trophy.”

GEARING UP: Tampa completed its preseason with a 1-0 win against Central Florida on Sunday. Since it opened camp just under two weeks ago, the win continued the progression the side has seen since a 4-1 defeat to South Florida in its preseason opener.

According to midfielder Pascal Milien, that progression has been the main focus of training since the team opened camp.

“From day one that’s the big thing we’ve been working on,” Milien said. “Preseason is about getting better, you learn from what you do wrong and what you do right. We all feel good about it, and we’ll keep moving on every game, keep working harder and try to reach our goal.”

Bush has noticed a difference in the team this week, however, as it entered the first game week of the season.

“It’s been a good preseason, but I think everyone is anxious for the games to start really counting,” Bush said. “It’s a different vibe out here definitely today, you can tell it’s opening week because a lot of injuries have disappeared all of a sudden, but we’re ready to play. It’s been a long seven months since our last real defeat on our field, and we’re anxious to get back and redeem that.”

BACK TO ZERO: While the Spartans begin this season with the same ranking as they ended 2008, the players and coaches aren’t paying much attention to outside opinions yet.

“To be honest, our coaches have been telling us that the season hasn’t started yet. Everything is 0-0-0, you know?” Milien said. “Being No.3, it doesn’t matter, it’s going to matter when you start winning games and prove that you’re No.3 for a reason. Right now, we don’t want to worry about that, we’ll just keep working hard.”

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