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Up first for Spartans, claiming Sunshine State dominance
By DAVID NORRIE
Published September 3, 2006
TAMPA - With three national championships to its credit, the University of Tampa soccer program boasts a reputation for playing at a high level.
But instability following the program's last title in 2001 has left the Spartans in search of their first winning Sunshine State Conference season in five years.
Second-year coach Adrian Bush plans to end that streak this year, though such a goal must be accomplished in what could be the toughest conference in all of Division II.
Three SSC teams - Lynn (third) Saint Leo (10th) and Rollins (25th) - landed in the NSCAA preseason poll. The Spartans were picked to finish fifth in the conference, but that's not keeping Bush from creating lofty ambitions.
"Our first goal is to win our conference, which I rate tops in the country," said Bush, whose club collected eight goals en route to winning its first two matches. "But in order to do that we have to change the attitude that's surrounded the team in the last couple of years. If we expect to get higher results we must live up to higher standards."
The Division II Player of the Year during the Spartans' 1994 national championship season, Bush isn't convinced the team is where it needs to be to fulfill that quest. But he does believe he has a talented mix of players who can compete for the SSC crown, depending on how well they mesh.
Tampa returns 13 letter winners, including five starters, from a squad that finished sixth in the conference (2-4-2) last season. Sixteen players were added in the offseason including Ricardo Cardoso and Heyden Ayure, both of whom helped lead Georgia Perimeter College to a junior college national championship last season.
Cardoso will bolster a Spartans offense that ranked seventh out of nine SSC teams in scoring a year ago. He set the Georgia Perimeter College school record with 50 career goals and wasted no time showing his scoring chops at UT, netting four goals in a 5-2 season-opening win against No. 8 Clayton State on Aug. 26.
Ayure, who scored the winning goal in the Juco national championship last year, is a strong midfielder who isn't afraid to mix it up and fight for the ball. He will play alongside returning midfielder Devin Shaw, a team leader and defensive impact player.
"Heyden and I are very good friends and have developed a great chemistry," Cardoso said.
"Now we have to match that chemistry with a great group of players to be part of this team. Everybody has accepted us and we all share the same goal, to win. Now it's just a matter of getting better."
No. Player Pos. Yr. Ht/Wt Hometown
0 Mike Devore GK Jr. 6-0/190 Brandon
1 Kevin St. John GK Sr. 6-1/180 Sarasota
2 Daniel Bergstrand D Fr. 6-3/190 Staffanstorp, Sweden
3 Ryan Vetzel F So. 6-1/165 Tampa
4 Hank Malouf D So. 5-8/165 Tampa
5 Gregg Emmerman MF Sr. 5-8/160 Tampa
6 Justin Versaggi D Sr. 6-2/175 Tampa
7 Kevin Sierra MF Jr. 5-9/140 Tampa
8 Ryan Maxwell MF So. 5-10/160 Clarendon, Jamaica
9 Ricardo Cardoso F Jr. 6-3/180 Coral Springs
10 Keeron Benito MF Sr. 6-0/165 Port of Spain, Trinidad
11 Chad Burt MF Fr. 5-8/155 St. Petersburg
12 Zach Barber D Jr. 5-10/160 Oviedo
13 Devin Shaw MF Jr. 5-10/160 Spring Hill
14 Heyden Ayure MF Jr. 5-10/165 Miami
15 Clevon George F So. 5-9/185 Port of Spain, Trinidad
17 Lee Inglis D So. 6-1/178 Shelton, Conn.
18 Tim Walsh D Fr. 6-1/170 Naperville, Ill.
19 Kwame Mathias F Jr. 5-10/170 Trincity, Trinidad