The University of San Diego men’s soccer team’s 1-0 upset of No. 3-ranked Nevada-Las Vegas in the Coors/UNLV Rebel tournament recently was the biggest victory in the program’s history.
But for Coach Seamus McFadden the match represented more than a big victory. It was a sign that the long and often frustrating road to respectability for the Toreros may be nearing an end.
McFadden took over a club team program seven years ago that has slowly become a winner. And although USD plays as an NCAA Division I team, it offers no scholarships for men’s soccer.
“It’s really been a long haul, a frustrating haul,” McFadden said. “It’s nice to beat the odds.”
Last season, USD was 8-11-2, the best season in the school’s history. This year the Toreros are 8-1.
Losing has been tough for McFadden. Originally from Ireland, McFadden was an All American in soccer at San Diego State and later coached at Clairemont High School, where his teams won two San Diego Section championships. He also played for the old San Diego Jaws of the North American Soccer League.
“I’m used to being at winning programs,” McFadden said. “We were really a doormat for so many years. But we’ve paid our dues and taken our lumps along the way. The program was built on blood and guts. And a lot of gray hairs.”
McFadden has built the program by searching for players who were overlooked by other schools.
“Basically, I draw on players I can develop myself,” he said. “It pays off down the road. I’ve got very bright kids.” Seven players have grade-point averages of at least 3.5.
Leading the Toreros is goalkeeper Scott Huckleberry, a 4.0 student who played at University of San Diego High School.
“We basically owe (the UNLV) win to him,” McFadden said. “He had some incredible saves.”
Huckleberry recorded a save on a penalty kick and stopped three shots in one-on-one situations. He also blocked with his chest UNLV’s attempt to tie the match with less than five minutes left. McFadden said the ball hit Huckleberry so hard that it knocked the wind out him. Huckleberry was named the tournament MVP.
Bo Kaemerle has nine goals and five assists in nine games for USD and freshman Mike Brille has seven goals and three assists.
The United States International University hockey team will have control over its home area beginning this season--the Mira Mesa House of Ice. Athletic director Al Palmiotto said the university will have exclusive use for two years to the rink, which will be called the USIU Arena. USIU, which had been playing part of its hockey schedule at the ice rink, will pay for needed refrigeration repairs and make internal improvements to the building.
USIU may also have found homes for its men’s and women’s basketball programs. The men’s team is expected to play its home games at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, said Blair Swain, sports information director. The school has been working on a deal since March to play in the hall, which once was home to the San Diego Conquistadors of American Basketball Assn.
An announcement on the school’s plans will be made next week. The women’s program is attempting to work out an agreement to use the Jewish Community Center in La Jolla. USIU does not have an on-campus gymnasium and the basketball teams have been forced to play at local high schools and community colleges.
Last season, USIU acquired the use of a local warehouse to hold practices because it could not find an open gym.
The new rink owners, who wish to remain anonymous, have promised to make external improvements to the structure, roads and parking lot.