January 1, 2013

UT-Dallas men mark 15th season

By UT-Dallas Sports Information

The UT Dallas men's soccer team had high expectations in 2012. And rightfully so. The Comets returned a majority of a team, including seven starters from a 2011 squad that posted 13 wins.

UTD did not disappoint this fall. After a rough start with four straight non-conference road games, going 1-3, the Comets rolled off seven straight wins to open American Southwest Conference play and quickly put a target on their back as one of the teams to beat in the league.

Comet's sophomore Travis White celebrates his goal against Louisiana College
Photo by UT-Dallas Athletics

The Comets opened the season at a classic hosted by Colorado College. UTD nearly knocked off the host school in the season opener, falling 3-2 in overtime, but bounced back for a 2-1 win over Nebraska Wesleyan to salvage a split at the event. The Comets led Colorado College, 2-0, before giving up three unanswered goals to a team that would eventually advance to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

UTD returned to Texas for a pair of games in San Antonio against regional foes Trinity and Southwestern. The Comets stumbled to then No. 1-ranked Trinity, 2-0, and again suffered a disappointing overtime defeat. UTD trailed Southwestern, 2-0, early in the game before bouncing back with two goals to force the extra period. However, the Pirates scored with just over 30 seconds left overtime to hand the Comets their third loss in four games to open the season.

ASC play opened with two more road games as the Comets traveled West for contests a Howard Payne and Hardin-Simmons. The Comets were forced to play the two games with the help of junior forward Michael Darrow, the eventual ASC Offensive Player of the Year, due to an emergency appendectomy. The Comets answered the call with a pair of shutouts, downing Howard Payne, 3-0, and edging Hardin-Simmons, 1-0.

Comet's head coach Jack Peel
Photo by lUT-Dallas Athletics

In their home opener, the Comets cruised to a 5-0 win over Schreiner as Darrow tied the UTD record with a four-goal performance. UTD added a 3-0 win over Texas Lutheran two days later to go 4-0 in ASC play, outscoring its opponents, 12-0. 

UTD returned to the road the following weekend with a 3-1 win at East Texas Baptist before returning home for two key league wins. After a 1-0 win over LeTourneau, the Comets picked up their seventh straight win, a 2-1 double-overtime victory over rival and two-time defending ASC champion Texas-Tyler. UTD fell behind early to the Patriots before forcing overtime with a goal by freshman Jordan Rubel. After a scoreless first overtime period, the Comets got the game-winner on a corner kick by senior Robert Lopez. Lopez' corner kick found the UTT net untouched by any player as the wind pushed the ball into the goal.

The Comets then opened a three-game road trip with their first ASC loss of the season, a tough 4-3 defeat at Mary Hardin-Baylor. UTD responded with road wins over Concordia and Ozarks before returning home for a dominant 4-0 win over Louisiana College. The Comets closed the regular season with a 1-0 home loss to Mississippi College in a match that would decide the ASC regular-season champion and host for the ASC Tournament.

UTD earned the No. 2 seed in the ASC Tournament and, after a first-round bye, downed Schreiner 3-1 in the semifinals. The win over the Mountaineers set up a re-match with Mississippi College. The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw through two overtime periods, forcing the contest to go to penalty kicks to decide the ASC Champion and the league's automatic berth into the NCAA D-III National Tournament. After the prerequisite five kicks, the two teams were tied, 3-3. Each team made its sixth kick to force a seventh round, but MC's goalkeeper rejected a shot by Omar Jaroun to end the game.

The Comets awaited a possible at-large berth into the national tournament, but the invitation didn't come as the 62-team field was announced the day after the ASC title game.

Darrow finished the season with a school-record 19 goals and was one of four Comets to earn first team All-ASC honors. Teammates Brian Bienhoff, Eric Pekkala, Steven Nicknish also earned first team honors as seven Comets were recognized by the league. As Darrow picked up league offensive Player of the Year honors, Bienhoff was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year, marking the first time since 2002 that UTD had swept the two major league awards. Robert Lopez was named third team All-ASC while Bryan Shiba and Rubel each grabbed honorable mention recognition. Rubel also shared ASC Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.

The Comets finished the 2012 season with a 12-5-1 overall record, topping the 10-win mark for the 13th time in the 15 years of the program. UTD was 10-2 in ASC play, earning 10 league wins for the second straight season.

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.