Hall of Fame Spotlight - Jason Woods
UMKC Athletics 1-22-2013
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By David Boyce

UMKC men's soccer team entered the 2001 season believing it could have a special year.

One reason for the optimism was defender Jason Woods joining the team and solidifying the back row. The Kangaroos won seven of their first nine games.

A little after midway portion of the season adversity struck. Midfielder Brian Wallace went down with a serious injury.

"When Brian went out, it is natural to think there goes that season," UMKC men's coach Rick Benben said.

Benben moved some players around. One of those players was Woods, who made the jump from the back row to Wallace's spot.

The Kangaroos struggled a bit during this period of transition. UMKC went 1-3 in its last four regular season games.

UMKC found its stride in the Mid-Continent Tournament. The Kangaroos won in a shootout against Oakland and then beat IUPUI 2-1 in the championship game. UMKC was in the NCAA Tournament and the best was yet to come.

The Kangaroos beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2-1 in overtime and advanced to the second round against St. Louis, the host school. The St. Louis team even had a couple of players that eventually played in the MLS.

Still, UMKC nearly beat St. Louis, before falling 2-1.

"We had a really special team," Benben said. "We were really unlucky in that game against Saint Louis. The good news was we played Milwaukee at a neutral site. But then we played Saint Louis on their field two days later.

"That Saint Louis team was awesome. That team was loaded. But the game on Sunday was a toss-up. We could have easily won that game. It went their way, but it could have easily gone our way.

"We were a really good team and Jason was a big part of it."

Last year the 2001 men's soccer team was inducted into the UMKC Hall of Fame.

Woods earned the honor on an individual basis this year. He is one of eight people in the Class of 2013 who will be inducted Jan. 25th.

"He was a really good player," Benben said. "The best year we ever had at UMKC, Jason was really a big part of it.

"I think it is fantastic he made the Hall of Fame. I am proud of them individually. They worked hard. The reason they are being honored is because that team was so good."

Woods made first team all-conference and third team NSCAA All-Midwest Region in 2001.

Woods accomplished just as much in his next two seasons at UMKC. He made the conference all-tournament team in 2002 and 2003 and was second team NSCAA All-Midwest Region.

Woods also helped UMKC advance to another NCAA Tournament in 2003.

But it was what he did in 2001 that was most impressive. Changing position late in the season and succeeding in it to help the men's team have one of the finest seasons in the programs history is what Hall of Famers do.

"He was really a good two-way player," Benben said. "That is the best way to describe Jason. He was athletic. He could cover a lot of ground. He was very dangerous on restarts. He was great with his head.

"Every time we had chances around the penalty area, he was very effective and at the end of crosses. He was a good defender and a good attacking player as well.

"We have had a few who were versatile, but I don't think we had anyone who changed his role on the team and then was such an important factor in it."

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