Mata leads TU past USF 1-0 in OT
BY GREG AUMAN World Correspondent
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 4:43 PM
Correction: A Monday Tulsa World Sports story incorrectly identified University of Tulsa soccer coach Tom McIntosh and also listed the wrong location for TU’s next soccer game. The Hurricane will host San Diego at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium. This story has been corrected.
TAMPA, Fla. - Shots on goal hadn't been easy to come by for Tulsa on Sunday night, so when Omar Mata lined up for a free kick just outside the penalty box with less than two minutes left in the first overtime against South Florida, he recognized the opportunity he had in front of him.
"I was going to bend the near post, but I saw the goalie kind of cheat a little bit to that side, so I changed my mind at the last second and I just went for the back post," said Mata, who drilled a shot high to the far corner of the net, beyond a leaping USF goalkeeper to send Tulsa into the NCAA Tournament's round of 16 with a 1-0 win.
"Luckily, it went in."
Tulsa, which lost 2-1 to USF in September, had adversity just in playing the game on the road as a seeded team - coach Tom McIntosh said the school made a "slight mistake" in not submitting a bid to the NCAA to host postseason games.
"When those things happen, it's unfortunate," McIntosh said. "We talked before the tournament that's it's not a matter of where you play or who you play. It's how we play. We were confident we could win here."
Tulsa (14-5-1) will host the University of San Diego in the Sweet Sixteen. The Toreros (14-8-0) defeated UCLA 5-2 on Sunday.
Mata, a junior who played at Union High School, said traveling from one side of the country to the other in a week's time won't faze his teammates.
"We weren't going to make any excuses," Mata said. "If we want to win a national championship, we have to beat everybody, wherever."
Hurricane keeper Mark Pais, a senior who transferred from Saint Louis this season, had to make only two saves, including a point-blank shot as USF's Sebastien Thuriere broke loose for a one-on-one.
"He did fantastic on that, because he made Sebastien have to beat him," McIntosh said. "He came out, stayed big, stayed up, didn't fall down, and Sebastien ended up hitting it right off his chest.
"Sometimes, keepers can make it too easy on guys by diving too early or exposing too much of the goal. He's a huge part of our success."
Tulsa is in its fifth NCAA Tournament in six years, including its third round of 16 - the Golden Hurricane made the Elite 8 in 2009, when the current seniors were freshmen. The postseason could mirror Tulsa's early season - five days after losing to USF in September, it lost 1-0 at UCLA.
"Given our location, we travel a lot anyway," McIntosh said. "There's just not that many teams in our area of the country - like four teams within four hours and that's it. We're used to the travel. We've been in these situations before - I thought we were pretty composed in, honestly, a frantic, tight game."
Tulsa 1, South Florida 0
Goals: TU, O. Mata at 98:46 (unassisted). Keepers: TU, Pais (2 saves); USF, Jaye (3 saves).
Original Print Headline: Mata's boot lifts TU in overtime
At San Diego