Pais has found just the right fit at Tulsa
BY JOHN D. FERGUSON World Correspondent
Friday, November 23, 2012
11/23/12 at 2:53 AM
Goalkeeper Mark Pais lives by his own set of goals.
The University of Tulsa senior saw his dream of playing pro soccer slowly drift away as a backup at Saint Louis University. After three years with little change in his status, Pais transferred to TU.
"I've always aspired to play professionally," Pais said. "I was not in the best position at Saint Louis to do that. I needed to get somewhere to play on a consistent basis."
Pais had only one more year of eligibility, but won the starting net-minding job for the Hurricane. No. 20 TU is 14-5-1 and Pais has been a perfect fit with eight shutouts.
"Everything fell into place," said Pais of transferring. "I feel I am getting better here and we have a ton of talent on the team. I'm excited for the weekend."
This weekend is the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen, with TU set to host San Diego (13-8) at 5 p.m. Sunday at the TU Soccer Stadium. The winner advances to the Elite Eight while the loser is eliminated.
"He wanted a fresh start," said TU coach Tom McIntosh. "Right away, he was tremendously professional and earned a lot of respect from the guys. He's become one our leaders."
Pais has played every game. That's a far cry from the on again, off again playing schedule he had in Saint Louis.
The Hurricane has two other keepers who can play - Cody Mumma and Michael Murray.
"All the goalkeepers are good workers," McIntosh added. "And, Mark is a great teammate. Everyone has handled the change really well."
Pais likes to credit an assistant coach TU hired just before he transferred. Assistant Terry Boss not only knows soccer, but has played it professionally, mostly with Seattle as a goalkeeper.
Boss' knowledge has given Pais confidence.
"It's awesome," Pais said of Boss' input. "His personality is to compete at something and get better at something. He knows all the little details that helps him be a fantastic coach."
McIntosh pointed to the recent NCAA Tournament game with South Florida where Pais' talent was crucial.
"He made a huge save on a breakaway," McIntosh said.
Pais recalls the play clearly.
"I had not done much most of the game," Pais said. "Near the end of the second half, I made a save off a breakaway. Fortunately, I was able to make the play. It was a pretty exciting game for us."
TU beat South Florida, 1-0, to advance in the NCAA bracket.
Vs. San Diego 5 p.m. Sunday