"I'm not exactly a 'good ole boy,' " the 20-year-old junior drawls. "But I'm sure 'nuff Texan. Heck, a lot of us on the team went to the same high school, W. T. White, right there in Dallas."
Phillips has marvelous reflexes and delivers a drumfire of advice to his defenders. He should have a good shot at the pros, says Yeagley. "He shut us out. The only one this year. I can't believe it." Adds Seattle Pacific Coach Cliff McCrath, "I'd like to tie Phillips up somewhere until his eligibility has run out. But he's one of the best keepers I've seen in college soccer." Phillips gets his hair cut every year whether he needs it or not and prefers fishing for bass and shooting quail to the fraternity beer blast. But like his fellow Mustangs, he is a certified Frisbee freak.
The Mustangs play Frisbee anywhere they happen to be: in airports, buses, vans, hallways, rooms and showers. Even the Iranians have managed to master the two-wall carom, the ceiling-floor skip, the air-bounce and the dreaded sidearm thumb toss. But you would be wrong to think that they're a nice bunch of guys left over from some flower-power revival. The Mustangs like to kick butts and take names.
"I don't think we're very physical," says Scots Forward Davie Williamson. "But you must let the other lads know you're there, mustn't you?"
"Every team is playing harder soccer this year," says Benedek. "The level of play is so far up in the NCAA over last year that more professional touches, like physical play, are everywhere. We're part of a trend."
Says Phillips, "Well, if some guy hits me, I'm not going to turn the other cheek, I'm going to go for the big arteries."
Capitalizing on their strength with hip and elbow, the Mustangs play a brand of soccer that frustrates and sometimes enrages opponents. Working from a 4-3-3 formation, they defend to the death.
"Most college soccer teams are taught to win the ball at midfield," says Benedek. "They gallop like horses. We let them have it. Why exhaust yourself? And then they turn, see 20 open yards and think they're in heaven. Then they see our defensive wall. Ha! Surprise, guys!"
Using three backs and a sweeper, SMU packs its goal area, forcing opponents to bring up more midfielders to attack.
"We've developed a fast break," says Benedek, "where our backs clear out to our forwards, who try to slip behind the other defense. Then they're shorthanded back there and we can score."