Area colleges: Soccer eases transitions for high-scoring Belmont junior

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 11:42pm

Because he was 4 years old, Brandon Tarr doesn’t remember much of the time he came from Vietnam to the United States.

Adopted by a couple from Knoxville, at such a young age he was introduced to a new and very different culture. But he does recall a familiar sight — one that possibly helped him adjust to his new life.

“Coming from that side of the world, there is only one sport and that was soccer,” Tarr said. “When I first came here, that was one of the few things that really had common ground with what I had been doing in my former life in Vietnam. ... I think that could have been one of things that held me together, for sure.”

Seventeen years later, soccer still resonates with Tarr — and so far Belmont has been the beneficiary of a standout college career.

Last week, the junior forward for the Bruins scored twice in a 3-1 victory against nationally ranked ETSU. For his effort, he was named the Atlantic Sun Conference’s player of the week.

Heading into Sunday’s game against Lipscomb, he has 22 career goals — tied with Fernando Castellanos for the school record.

“He just has a very good understanding of being able to be calm and composed and finish,” Belmont coach Earle Davidson said. “People say goal scorers are born not made, and I think there is some truth to that. A lot of that of just has to do with the mindset of being around the goal. He has a very strong, positive mindset when he is around the goal.”

The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Tarr leads the Atlantic Sun with seven goals. That already matches his total from last year and there are seven regular-season games remaining.

“I think one of the jobs of forwards is to score goals and I’ve always had a knack for that,” Tarr said. “I think a huge part of it is that we have some very good midfield play, just guys in there like Nico Olsak, who is leading the conference in assists [with six], who are really creative and are able to find guys like me that are in the right spots. ... Those pieces of the puzzles are really important.”

During his prep career, Tarr led Christian Academy of Knoxville to four state championships and earned all-state accolades in the process. His sophomore year, he moved to Florida to participate in the United States National Team’s youth residency program. He competed for both the U-17 and U-15 national teams and Rise Magazine ranked him 25th among the nation’s top recruits in 2008.

He landed at the University of South Carolina but redshirted his freshman year. Injuries then slowed him down.

“I was never really completely happy there to be honest,” Tarr said. “In the spring [of 2009] it got even worse. I ended up tearing my meniscus [in his knee]. I just felt like it was time for a change. ... I wanted to come back to Tennessee.”

After visiting Memphis, Lipscomb and Belmont, he decided on the Bruins, calling the university, the program and Nashville a good fit. He impacted the program right away, scoring eight goals in 2009 as he was named the A-Sun freshman of the year.

This season, he is trying to lead the Bruins (5-5-1) to a conference championship. So far they are off to a good start, with a 1-0-1 mark in league play.

“This year has been a culmination of a lot of hard, hard work,” Tarr said. “We really feel like this year we have a team that can go really far and can really play with a lot of good teams, like we just proved with ETSU. I think things are working out great.”

• Trevecca and the TranSouth: Trevecca Nazarene’s status with TranSouth Athletic Conference has been finalized.

In July, the Trojans were approved for membership for NCAA Division II. Since they applied in consecutive years, they were disqualified from NAIA postseason play this year. That led the athletic directors and presidents of the TranSouth to revisit Trevecca’s status for its final season of league action.

The Trojans will be listed in the conference standings but they won’t be eligible for the league’s regular-season championships or postseason tournaments. All results against Trevecca will be removed prior to seeding for conference tournaments.

Trevecca athletes will be eligible for player of the week awards, along with TranSouth Conference Scholar-Athlete, NAIA Scholar-Athlete and NAIA Champions of Character recognition. But Trevecca coaches and athletes will not be eligible for any specific postseason conference awards or national player of the week and All-American accolades.

• Green honored: Middle Tennessee State senior Hunter Green was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Month, the league announced on Monday.

Green became the first Blue Raider to finish first at Mason Rudolph Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin in September. The Evensville, Tenn., native shot a career-best three-round score of 205. It also tied for the second-best 54-hole performance in school history.

Green finished the tournament with an 8-under performance, also a new personal best, as MTSU also captured the team championship. He also played well in the team’s season-opening tournament, the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Georgia, shooting two-under and placing 11th in a 60-golfer field.