Friday night, SMU played host to visiting Vanderbilt in thefirst round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Being theNo. 1 seed in the tournament, the Mustangs had first round homefield advantage and their opponent would be the No. 8 seededVanderbilt. They seized the opportunity with a 2-0 shutout win. Thevictory advanced SMU to the semi-final round.
The win was SMU’s ninth in a row and they are peaking atthe exact right moment. Two more wins would secure a conferencetournament championship and would guarantee a national tournamentbid. Being ranked No. 3 in the nation, the bid will come regardlessof the MVC tournament, but the momentum would be a fantastic thingto have. The win increases SMU’s record to 14-3 on the seasonwhile Vanderbilt ends their 2004 season with a record of7-10-1.
The game started physically and continued that way from start tofinish. Both teams committed 38 total fouls and each team had a fewyellow cards issued to them. The game remained full of intensitybut SMU was the only team to use it to their advantage.
The Mustangs struck first early in the first half.
At the 7:08 minute mark, David Chun dribbled the ball to theright corner and was illegally tripped. That foul set up a freekick that was fired past the Vanderbilt goalie by sophomore MynorGonzalez. The score remained 1-0 for the rest of the first half,even though both teams remained on the offensive.
The second half remained a 1-0 score until the 83:45 minutemark. Alex Smith and the Mustangs had another scoring opportunitywith a free kick from the right flank.
The kick scorched the net and was untouched by any of theCommodore defenders.
The goal was just added breathing room for the remainder of thegame, and as it turns out, one goal was enough.
T.J. Tomasso, the SMU goalkeeper, was credited with his seventhshutout of the season and now has a career total of 25.5shutouts.
He now needs only 2.5 additional shutouts to move into a tie forthird all-time high here at SMU.
Tomasso spoke about the game and the rest of the tournament.”We came out a little slow in the first half, but by thesecond half the guys did a great job in front of me.
“They really played their butts off tonight. Next round,it really doesn’t matter who we are playing, we are gonnahave to come right from the start and get things going.”
In the last seven games against Vanderbilt, SMU has a 7-0record. In those seven games, the Mustangs have outscored theCommodores 19-3.
Next, the Mustangs will travel to Creighton where the semi-finaland final rounds will be played.
The final four teams left in the tournament are SMU, Creighton,Bradley and Tulsa.
SMU’s game will be on Friday, November 12th at 5:00 pm andthey will play against the No. 4 seeded Bradley.