Clarksville, Ark.-University of the Ozarks senior forward Tony Santoro has been an offensive weapon and a team leader early on for the men?s soccer team this season.
Santoro, from Houston, has provided Ozarks with a formidable scoring duo up front for head coach John Cossaboon. Santoro has scored five goals through seven matches, while transfer Eloy Salgado has netted seven goals. For the past three seasons, Santoro played in the midfield, but Cossaboon saw the scoring potential of his hard-working senior early on and decided to move him to forward. That decision has paid off. Santoro’s adjustment has been smooth, as his shots total (22), points total (10) and goals total rank second on the team.
“He has kicked it up a whole new level,” said Cossaboon. “He has scored some beautiful goals. That ability has been in him, but I don’t think he quite believed it. I think now he is starting to believe it and he is getting results. We are in a style of play where our forwards must work hard when we lose the ball. The forward’s have the most important job pressing in the attacking third at that time. That isn’t always a forwards mentality. But Tony has done this.”
The 2010 All-Conference player has done more than score goals. Santoro exudes the leadership qualities Cossaboon expects, and for that reason, he will join senior defender Logan Hornback as a team captain for the remainder of the year. Santoro’s example, on and off the field, has been impressive, according to Cossaboon.
“I think Tony has risen to a higher level and is doing the things he needs to do,” said Cossaboon. “I think he and Logan together will be stronger than either one of them by themselves. I just felt like right now Tony was the one.”
“It is a great honor,” said Santoro. “I am proud to be a co-captain of this team. Logan has done a great job, and I will have his back when he needs it. I will give my input when needed. I just want my work ethic and play lead by example.”
Santoro has done well in the classroom, too. As a mathematics major, he has been a member of the ASC All-Academic Team for two seasons and in 2010 he was named to the ESPN Academic All-America Team. Additionally, he serves as president of the campus’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Santoro scored two goals against Rhodes College and Louisiana College after leading the team in assists (4) last season. Now, he has thrived up front for the Eagles.
“It is an adjustment from playing in the middle of the field,” he said. “You really have to take advantage of your opportunities because you don’t see the ball very much, but you still have to work just as hard. I feel like I am adapting.”
He is a graduate of Dulles High School where was a three-time All-District performer.
The Eagles will host Hardin-Simmons University September 24 and then hit the road for matches against Mary Hardin-Baylor September 30 and Howard Payne University October 1.