Memphis Takes Down No. 23 Drake, 4-3
Sept. 13, 2009
The Memphis men's soccer team, ranked seventh in the Midwest region according to the National Soccer Coaches Association, upended the No. 23 Drake Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at West Campus Field in Birmingham, Ala. The game was the second for the Tigers in the UAB "Soccer For A Cure" Classic. The Tigers used an all-around team effort to get past the Bulldogs who returned 10 starters off of a team that made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2008. With the win, Memphis improves to 2-1-1 on the year. Drake drops to 3-2 on the year following the loss.
"I am really pleased with the final score," said Memphis head coach Richie Grant. "We are a little disappointed it came so close at the end. We were ahead 4-1 and very much in control. I thought our back four did a tremendoous job. It sounds weird saying that our defense played well when we gave up three goals, but I thought we were much improved from Friday's game. I thought Rory O'Connor had a super match for us today."
Drake led off Sunday afternoon's scoring with a 24th minute goal by Michael Noonan. Noonan, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, came off the bench for the Bulldogs and took the ball down the right side and placed the ball in the lower left part of the goal past goalkeeper Michael Goodlett. The goal was Noonan's first of the season. The redshirt sophomore had four goals during his freshman campaign in 2007.
The U of M countered in the 31st minute when freshman forward/midfielder Justin Watson fired the ball from six yards out past Drake goalkeeper Michael Drozd, a second team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 2008. The goal is Watson's first of his career. The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native was a member of the U.S. U-18 National Team before joining the Memphis men's soccer program in the fall. Elias Groft was credited with the assist on the goal. The assist was Groft's first of his career. Watson and Groft had just given the Tigers a set of fresh legs just two minutes prior to the execution of the goal-scoring play. The pair replaced starting forwards Parker Duncan and J.J. Greer.
The Tigers struck again in the 37th minute off of a Ryan Ruble header off of a corner kick from sophomore defender Thomas Shannon. Ruble one timed the ball past Drozd for his first goal of the season. The junior midfielder from Lee's Summit, Mo., had an assist in Memphis' draw against Bradley earlier this season. The goal was Ruble's ninth during his three year career at the U of M. The assist for Shannon was the first of the regular season for the Broken Arrow, Okla., product. Shannon showed his prowess on set plays during the preseason for Memphis accounting for three assists in two exhibition games, all of which came off of set plays.
Memphis had six shots compared to three for Drake in the first period. The Tigers attempted three shots on goal compared to two for the Bulldogs. Watson led the way for Richie Grant's squad with two shots in the first half. Jon Wright, a midfielder from Tulsa, Okla., had Memphis' other shot on goal besides the two goals by Ruble and Watson.
Drake was led in the first half by Noonan who finished with two shots. Noonan and Kenan Malicevic accounted for the Bulldogs' two shots on goal.
Coming out of the locker room heading into the second half, the Tigers were looking to continue their pace they had developed during the second part of the first period. Memphis did so with a 48th minute goal from freshman midfielder Andreas Guentner, a native of Regensburg, Germany. The newcomer recovered the ball off of a save by Drozd off of a Jon Wright shot and deposited it into the empty net vacated by the Drake netminder. The goal was Guentner's first of his career. Wright picked up his first assist of his career on the goal.
The Tigers netted their fourth goal of the game in the 63rd minute when Duncan, a sophomore forward from Johnson City, Tenn., scored off an assist from Greer. The goal was the second of the season for the All-C-USA third team selection and C-USA All-Freshman team honoree from a season ago. Duncan led the Tigers with six goals in 2008. He has two goals and three assists in four games for the Tigers in 2009.
Memphis now has four freshman who have accounted for a point this season. Wright had two goals against Eastern Illinois and an assist against Drake, Greer scored the lone goal for the Tigers against UMKC and accounted assists against Eastern Illinois and this afternoon against Drake, Watson scored the game-tying goal for Memphis in this afternoon's contest and Guentner scored the third goal for Memphis in this afternoon's match. The four freshman who have accounted for points have all seen considerable minutes in all four games this season, as has defender Jordan Johnson, who has started all four matches for Memphis.
"I think the freshman have really grown up quickly for us," Grant said. "Our motto going into the season was to not lose two straight and they were key in preventing that today. We had five different players contribute to goals this weekend and four of those players were freshman. The thing is that we really don't even see them as freshman. They have all come in and played for us from day one in the preseason and they have very much become just players on the team. Their youth is what is so exciting for this program."
Drake bounced back with a 66th minute goal by senior Calvin Clark. The Overland Park, Kan., native scored his first goal of the year on a header off of a corner by Noonan. The assist is the first of the season for Noonan who netted a goal in the first half.
The Bulldogs struck again in the 79th minute to make the score 4-3. Thomas Ostrander, a sophomore midfielder from Fort Dodge, Iowa, scored the goal off of an assist from sophomore midfielder Charles Schwartz. The goal was the first of the season for Ostrander. He had an assist earlier this season.
Memphis finished the game with 11 shots and six shots on goal. Duncan led the Tigers with three shots, including two shots on goal.
Drake ended the match with nine shots including seven shots on goal. Clark led the Bulldogs with four shots and three shots on goal.
Goodlett, a senior from Bolton, Miss., picks up the win for the Tigers in goal. The netminder improves to 2-1-1 on the season. He finished the game with four saves and three goals allowed.
Drozd, a junior from Harwood Heights, Ill., picks up the loss in net for the Bulldogs. He falls to 3-2 on the year in goal. Drozd finished with four goals allowed and two saves.
The four goals scored on Sunday account for the most goals by a Tiger squad against a ranked opponent since the 2005 addition of the U of M men's soccer team scored four goals to defeat No. 23 Oral Roberts.
The defeat of No. 23 Drake on Sunday serves as the sixth win for a Richie Grant coached Memphis squad over a ranked opponent. The Tigers upended No. 15 SMU on Oct. 5 of last year on an overtime header from senior defender Michael Coburn. The Tigers other four defeats over ranked teams came in 2005 against Oral Roberts and in 2004 with two wins over No. 17/23 UAB and a win over No. 21 Saint Louis. The U of M's second defeat of UAB gave them the 2004 Conference USA Tournament Championship.
Drake's only other loss coming into Sunday came against Michigan, who was ranked No. 22 by NSCAA at the time of the match. The win is Memphis' first in the series against the Bulldogs. The Tigers are now 1-2-0 against Drake all-time. The two schools last met during the 2005 season.
Memphis will return to pitch with a fixture against Vermont on Fri., Sept. 18 at Mike Rose Soccer Complex at 5:30 p.m. The game will serve as the first game of the Memphis Classic for the U of M and will also be part of a triple header at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex. The action starts with a 3 p.m., kickoff between Central Arkansas and UAB and ends with an 8 p.m., match pitting the Memphis women's soccer team against the Saint Louis Billikens.