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SOUTHWESTERN LOSES HEARTBREAKER 7-6 AGAINST TSU AGAIN!

[4/12/08] Southwestern and Texas State have been playing each other long before Texas State was aptly named. To say these teams were familiar with each other is an understatement. While Texas State has moved up to Div. 1 in the LSA, and Southwestern has stayed where it belongs in D2, both teams have continued this healthy rivalry the past few years.

Each of the games has been close to say the least. In fact, two of the last three years have come down to the very end, with each game, often a carbon copy of the year before.

The Bucs travelled down to San Marcos on Saturday reeling from an 0-2 trip to Arkansas, and knowing that Coach Park's team was not only very talented, but also ALWAYS played to the very end.

Even before the game started the Bucs were dealing with adversity. They were told that their last home game, in which a huge shindig was planned, was going to be postponed at best as Trinity once again made it known at the last minute they were not going to show up.

With no game the next day, the Bucs knew they had nothing to lose. However the game started out with the Bucs, to some extent sluggish and seemingly asleep as the Bobcats scored two quick goals before Irish put one in the back of the net.

From that point on the game was quite intense as the Bucs and Bobcats stifled opportunity after opportunity and the Bucs were able to enter into halftime with a 3-3 tie.

The third was, simply put an unbelievable display by the Buc defense as Mcdonough made save after save and defenders were able to check sticks at the right time to deflect shot or provide ones that meant easy saves for James. At the other end of the field, however, the Bucs were not able to control the ball, or even get it down there leaving the Buc defense with almost 13 minutes of time on their end of the field in the third. However, at the end of it, the Bucs, once again held their ground in hopes that the offense would start to make things happen.

As the fourth started, however, the Texas State Bobcats found the back of the net twice early on to bring the score to 5-3 and the game was close to getting away before the Bucs were able to bring it back to 5-4 and stop the bleeding. Texas State made it 6-4 before the Bucs scored on a man up, one of many in the fourth against TSU, to tie it up at 6 all with just over 4 minutes left.

The Bucs had their chances and with just under 3 minutes left had the ball until it was thrown away into a defenders stick. The ensuing fast break led to a quick score with just over 2 minutes left, before the Bucs had one last chance to get the ball back when TSU was not able to keep the ball in the box. Webb had a great shot but the goalie went down to make the save. In the ensuing battle, the Bucs were flagged for a man down with a minute left for the second time in three games.

The Bucs were able to get the ball back and actually get it down to the box before time ran out on them once again. The defense was amazing for the Bucs, as Cole, Fletch and Carney all stepped in and helped McDonough stifle most attempts to score. As was usual, most goals came from fast breaks or unsettled situations.

The offense showed some spunk and was able to make things happen to not let the game get out of hand so that the Bucs had a chance, with Webb finding 3 assists and Bryson finding the back of the net several times as well.

The game was a microcosm of the Bucs season and history, ALWAYS able to play with most any team, but not yet able to find the magic to get over the hump in these types of games against opponents in which the Bucs are clearly the underdogs. The Bucs also were not able to settle into an offensive rhythm, seeing all of the scoring from unsettled situations, their trademark, and man up opportunities.

Everyone played very well, well enough to win. Texas State, as has been the case the past few years, expected to win, and that was the difference.

The Bucs fell to 5-7 on the year with the loss, but still remain undefeated at 5-0 in conference with a final game against Trinity next weekend in the last home game of the year and ever for the seniors. The LSA playoffs still call and the opportunity for a chance at Nationals is still very attainable. The games that were scheduled this year were done so for two very important reasons. One was to see if the Bucs could get the monkey off their backs when it came to some of these big games against opponents that clearly outmatched them. The other reason was to provide the young team with as many games against as many opponents as possible that will prepare them for the National Championship should they be able to make the trip. On that level, I do believe the Bucs are ready.

- Bill Bowman