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TMP soccer plays at Rose Hill

Published on -10/22/2012, 10:26 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' soccer team has endured a difficult season.

The Monarchs have competed against schools more than seven times their size and have played with a mixture of players from different area towns and international students from multiple countries. TMP also lost two of its best players to school policy violations for the last seven matches of the regular season.

It hasn't been easy for TMP, and it's shown with its 4-11 record.

However, the Monarchs have an opportunity to erase that hardship Tuesday in the first round of Class 4-3-2-1A regional play at Rose Hill (12-4) -- a team that's knocked TMP out of the playoffs the past three seasons. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

As TMP coach Shawn Lawson has repeated over and over the past few weeks, "Adversity creates opportunity."

Tuesday will mark the end of the suspensions of TMP seniors Robert Niyonsaba and Rodney Gracas de Deus. They combined to score nine of TMP's 25 goals during the first eight matches of the season.

Lawson said having them back should provide the Monarchs with a spark.

"It's not like there's been a layoff," Lawson said. "They haven't played games per say, but the practices have been pretty intense. We are ready to go."

When Niyonsaba and Deus were in the lineup, TMP used a 4-4-2 formation, but switched to a more defensive 4-2-3-1 formation when they were suspended.

Lawson said he planned to stick with TMP's 4-2-3-1 formation with them back, and he intended to use Niyonsaba as the lone forward and Deus as an outside midfielder.

"(Deus') speed, his size, his touch will really help us," Lawson said. "That's really hurt us this year not having that on the outside and not having Robert on top. Robert is a playmaker. He's got good touch."

Prior to the suspensions, senior Carlos Duenes played as a center back but moved to midfield to fill the gap left by Deus. Lawson said he planned to keep Duenes as a defensive midfielder.

"I don't want to lose too much in the middle," Lawson said. "I feel like if we put (Duenes) on the back line we give up more."

Lawson admitted it has been a difficult stretch, but he hopes his team has learned lessons from the adversities its faced this season.

"Playing a WAC schedule this year, it was tough losing these games, but getting your butts handed to you, you eventually learn," Lawson said.

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