“I grew up playing soccer,” recalls Bernard Licari — Bernie to his teammates. “It is the main sport in Malta. From the day you start walking, you play it.” Licari was looking to come to the U.S. to study when he “somehow crossed paths with Bartels.” And for Tiger soccer fans, it was lucky he did, especially in that match with Saint Louis. “It was a hard-fought game,” recalls Licari. “Brooks Monaghan (current Tiger women’s soccer coach) had lots of saves.” Neff adds, “They were peppering our net early — our goalkeeper played out of his mind.” With the score 0-0, Licari delivered “the goal.” From the top of the Memphis box, Tiger Scott Grant found Licari in the center of the field with a perfectly placed diagonal pass over the defense. “It was just me against a couple of defenders,” Licari says. “I then beat them, but first I had a little fun with them, making them go left, making them go right. I remember faking the shot and the goalkeeper dropped and I dragged the ball around him and put it in the net. There were then a lot of people on the field going crazy.” “Bernie had this move where he’d dribble it at an angle, then hesitate, then fake, and people would shift and be off balance and then he would score,” Neff says. “He used that move on the play.” The Tigers held on for a few more minutes for a 1-0 pulsating upset, giving the team its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. “That conference championship T-shirt, I still have it even though it has holes in it,” says Neff, now living in Denver, with a laugh. Licari now works for Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich.
Then came “the pass.” “I remember dropping back to pass and I locked eyes with the defender and he froze. I was able to stare him down and freeze him and that gave just enough room to hit our tight end, Chris Powers. I have to tell you it was one of the best feelings I have ever had.” Anderson stood in the tunnel after the game, watching Tiger fans tear down the goal posts, tears welling in his eyes. Memphis won 21-17 and reserved Anderson’s place in Tiger lore. CAN YOU SAY, “GOOOOOOAL?” In this year of the World Cup, with soccer leaving almost every other sport combined in the digital dust on social media, what better time than to revisit the biggest and perhaps most spectacular goal in University of Memphis futbol history? The year was 1993 and lowly Memphis State University, losers of six of its past nine matches, entered the Great Midwest Conference tournament with an almost impossible mission: win three games in three days, a task made even more daunting with nationally ranked Saint Louis likely lurking if the Tigers somehow sneaked into the finals. “We were the bottom seed and were coming into the tournament off a very bad loss a week earlier to Centenary,” says Johnny Neff, who was a freshman starter for the Tigers. “One of their coaches, Gareth O’Sullivan, used to play for the Tigers so that made it even worse. It was the low point of the season. Coach (Chris) Bartels got so mad at us on the bus ride home that he stood over us and yelled that we could mope about it or move on.” Move on is what the Tigers did. Friday night came at Echles Field and Memphis upset Alabama-Birmingham 2-1. Saturday? Different team, Marquette, same result. But Memphis still had to overcome the Billikens, a team that blindsided Memphis 4-0 earlier in the season and was led by Brian McBride, a first-team All American who later played in three World Cups. But the Tigers had a dazzling star of their own, an athlete who later played on his country’s Olympic and national teams. 28
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THE CLOCK WAS TICKING …
Soccer player Bernard Licari says he is surprised to be remembered as having perhaps the biggest goal in U of M history.
Roger Bannister started “the club” 60 years ago; it took a Tiger 29 years to find his way in. In 1954, the British-born Bannister became the first person to run a sub fourminute mile, a feat once thought humanly impossible. Jim Ryun, Sebastian Coe and THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS
University of Memphis Fall Magazine