Nov. 5, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--The UAB men's soccer team earned the No. 6 overall seed in the 2012 Conference USA Men's Soccer Championship, which will be contested at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., Nov. 7-11.
The Blazers are set to play in the nightcap this Wednesday evening, taking on No. 3-seed UCF at 7:30 p.m. CT. Prior to UAB's match, No. 4 Memphis and No. 5 Kentucky will face off in the tournament opener at 5 p.m. CT.
UAB (9-6-2, 4-4-0 C-USA) comes into Wednesday's match after winning two of its final three matches, including a crucial home victory against Marshall on Oct. 20, where freshman Karl Chester scored the game winner with 40 seconds remaining. The Blazers secured their spot in the conference tournament with a 4-3 win at UCF on Oct. 27.
UAB will be making its 18th-straight appearance in the C-USA Championship, making them the only team in C-USA to have qualified for the event in every year of the league's existence.
SMU and Tulsa earned the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, and will await the winners of Wednesday's games. Friday's matches are also scheduled for 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. CT, while the championship match is slated for 1 p.m. CT on Sunday and will be aired on the CBS College Sports Network.
Statement from Head Coach Mike Getman
“We’re certainly very excited to be hosting the conference tournament this week. Later, in December, we also host the NCAA College Cup, so our team has been excited all season long to know that we have an opportunity to win two championships right here in our hometown.”
“Our team has played very well all season long. We’ve played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and we’ve succeeded quite well against tough competition. Now, we have a one-week, three-game opportunity to win a championship. Our players are motivated; we know it’s going to be a difficult week.”
“UCF is a very good team, we beat them 4-3 in Orlando just a week ago. It’s always a difficult challenge to try to beat someone twice in just over a week’s time, but our team has played well all year, we’ve played a lot of tough teams, and I think we know that if we go out and perform the way we have all year, there’s no reason we can’t win three matches this week.”
On what it takes to win a conference championship:
“It takes us playing well every day, it takes us working hard for 90 minutes each match, and that’s what we’ve done all year. I’ve been really pleased with this team and how every game, no matter who we play, the guys have worked hard for the full 90 minutes. If you look at our record, we’ve won a lot of games in the last 10 or 15 minutes. If we can keep that blue collar work ethic in playing hard the entire match, there’s no reason we can’t get this done.”
On positives in seeing UCF after playing the team so recently:
“Both teams know each other, so you know what to expect. For our players, there’s certainly a level of confidence knowing that we just beat them at their place, and there’s no reason we can’t succeed here at home. There are always positives to playing someone you’ve beaten before. It’ll be a very good game. They’re a very good team. UCF has one of the best offenses in Conference USA, but we also scored four times against them in Orlando, so we feel like we’re capable of doing that again.
On individuals that are playing well:
“It’s been a team effort really. Mladen Lemez, our center back, is actually fourth in Conference USA is scoring. When you have a defender who No. 4 in the league in scoring, you know he’s doing something right. We’ve played well up front with our forwards like Kofi Gyawu is one of the hottest forwards in the league. Karl Chester, who is a freshman, has three conference goals in the last four games. All those guys have done well, but it’ll be 11 players working hard for 90 minutes that makes the difference.”
On being in a must-win situation:
“The NCAA ranks our schedule as the one of the toughest in the nation, so our guys have played tough matches every single week of the season. There is no question that we are a battle-tested team. Whether it’s UCF or Tulsa or whoever comes after that, our guys have played against good competition, they know what it takes to succeed, and I’m confident they’re going to put on a good performance.