Soccer Team Moves Up a Division, May 4, 2001

Tech Miners Soccer Team

[Photo caption: Front row (left to right): Maurizio Leo, Tim Kinsworthy, Dan Young, Tony Zimmerly, Hanh Nguyen, Mike Okoro, Josh Lynch

Back row (left to right): Chad Watson, Brian Petracca, Charlie Snider, Nate Vanderlinder, Don Bleeker, Gordon Rueff, Bram Vandergeest, and Paul Fuierer (coach)]

The New Mexico Tech men's soccer team won again Sunday, blowing out the Boring team from Albuquerque, with a score of 5-0. The previous week, they depressed "Deep Purple" with a score of 7-0. The wins put the Miners' final record at 14 wins, 2 losses, and one tie, giving the team the first place trophy out of 22 teams in the 3rd division of the Albuquerque Soccer League. Tech was clearly the dominant team throughout the spring season, winning all 9 games, all but one a shut out. A total of one goal was scored against the Miners in 9 games. The Miners apparently outgrew their Fall season shyness for the net, and managed to score 42. For the Fall and Spring 17-game total, the goals for - goals against ratio was an impressive 71-16.

The team attained the goal set by coach Paul Fuierer: finish within the top two spots in order to relegate up to the next division. The Miners will be in 2nd division for the 2001-2002 season. There they will face stiffer competition, but Fuierer has high expectations for the team to do just as well, since nearly all the players are returning.

"The team has really come along over the course of this year. We started with a few talented players at the beginning. We finished with a bunch of guys who worked really hard, improved their skills, improved their game sense, and really learned how to play together to get the job done." The Miners managed a great game Sunday against Boring, despite several injuries, no subs, and borrowed uniforms.

Both teams sported white jerseys so Tech, being the home team, was responsible for alternates. With two minutes to game time, and no other option, the guys borrowed the jerseys from the women's team that played immediately before. The mint green color was striking, plus according to Tim "Tex" Kinsworthy, "they smelled nice". The jerseys worked, particularly for Mike Okoro. He was the clear MVP of the game, scoring all five goals from his striker position. His first goal was a World Cup-worthy left-footed volley off of a corner kick from Nate Vanderlinder. As usual, veteran Tony Zimmerly and sophomore Dan Young gave strong performances. Both worked very hard to deny any attack from opponents and to create opportunities for the offense. Hanh Nguyen managed a few saves in the goal to ensure the shut-out.

Coach Paul Fuierer added these details: "All teams are members of the New Mexico State Soccer Association (NMSSA). A majority of the teams were from Albuquerque area. The tournament was hosted by the Albuquerque Soccer Association (ASL), of which our NMT team is a member. There were 15 men's teams and 4 women's teams altogether. There were 4 teams in our division.

"Critical goals throughout the tourney were scored by sophomores Maurizio Leo and Michael Okoro, and senior Randy Clark. Sophomore Hahn Nguyen kept the goal, earning two shut-outs.

"The NMT men's team plays in the ASL during the "regular season". We are currently tied for 2nd place in the 3rd division of the ASL. Our goal is to be sitting in a top position (1st or 2nd place) at the end of league play (17 games, Fall-Spring) so we can relegate (move up) to the 2nd division next academic year. This is a relegation league, and all new teams like ours must start in the lowest division and earn their way up to division 2, then 1, and finally premier."