SEASON REVIEW: Bearcats display improvement under first-year coach Barry

For the Willamette University men’s soccer team, 2002 was a year of steady improvement under new head coach Bob Barry.

The Bearcats finished the season fourth in the NWC with a 5-7-2 NWC record (6-11-2 overall). Led by All-NWC second-team performer senior Mike Ott, the team’s most valuable player, Barry’s squad adapted well to a new style of play.

“We struggled early in the season to adapt to a different style of play. But once we found some success, we really raised our level of play as the season wore on,” said Barry. “The one thing we lacked was consistency, but we showed great strides in virtually every area of the game.

Barry said when compared to last season, the Bearcats moved up in the conference in virtually every area.

“When you look at shots, goals, fouls, goals for and against, corner kicks and even cards, we got better in virtually every category. We reduced our offside penalties from over 40 in 2001 to 22 in 2002. That’s the kind of improvement we were looking for.”

Joining Ott on the All-NWC team was junior forward Ben DeSanno and midfielder Ricardo Sanchez (both selected to the second team). Defender Adam Moshofsky was selected honorable mention all-conference.

Barry also had high praise for the four seniors on his inaugural team.

“Mike Ott was just outstanding all season long. Matt Snodgrass gave us 100 percent every minute he was on the field. Mike Semenza was really our unsung hero and held our midfield together all season long. And Balky Gamez was our best player off the bench all season,” said Barry. “They were all great kids who gave us everything they had.”

DeSanno was the team’s leading scorer, finishing No. 2 in the conference with 10 goals and five assists. He led the league in shots per game with 65.

Looking forward to next season, Barry will have to fill holes left by the graduation of the four seniors, and the loss of goalkeeper Andrew Ward (No. 2 in the NWC in saves with 102), who plans to travel abroad on a church mission.

But with the likes of DeSanno, forward Kyle Gouveia and talented freshman performers Reid Bennion and Don Bressler, Barry will have a solid group of players back as he attempts to move up another level in NWC play.

“We’ll be better next season. We’re bringing back some tough defenders like Moshofsky and Bressler, some solid forwards and we’ll have another year of experience under our belts. I’m looking forward to next season already,” said Barry.