Tigers Clinch No. 1 Seed in C-USA Tourney With 2-0 Shutout of No. 17 UAB
Oct. 28, 2004
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - In a battle for the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Tournament, the University of Memphis men's soccer team came out on top with a 2-0 shutout of No. 17 UAB on Wednesday at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex.
In front of the second largest crowd ever at a Tigers' game at Mike Rose with 579 in attendance, Memphis clinched at least a share of the C-USA regular season title after beating its second-straight ranked opponent.. The No. 20 Tigers can clinch the regular season title with a win or tie in their final conference game at East Carolina or a UAB loss or tie in one of its two final conference games against Louisville and DePaul.
"I'm excited for the players," said Memphis head coach Richie Grant. "It's very rewarding for a group of players who have put so much effort into the program over a period of years. I congratulate our senior players. They've put out some outstanding performances and set the standard for the leadership in our program. Tonight is their reward."
After being ranked No. 9 in the 10 team conference preseason rankings, the Tigers are the lowest preseason ranked team to win a share of the conference regular season tournament. It is the first time ever the U of M has captured a conference regular season title.
"This win means a lot," said senior Tiger goalkeeper Sebastian Vecchio. "It's a good reward for all the hard work we've put in. We always knew we were as good as anyone in the conference, and this win shows it."
Memphis improves to 11-3-1 and 7-1-0 in C-USA. The 11 regular season wins are the most for a Tiger team since 1992 when the team finished 13-2-2 before losing to Saint Louis in the Great Midwest Tournament. The seven conference wins are the most ever for the Tigers. UAB falls to 9-5-0 and 5-2-0 in C-USA.
Daniel Dobson put Memphis on the board first after heading in a ball past UAB goalie A.J. Robles off a corner kick by Dayton O'Brien. It is Dobson's third goal of the season and second game-winner.
After leading 1-0 at the half, the Tigers scored an insurance goal six minutes into the second period on another corner kick by O'Brien. The ball was shuffled by Justin Dyer to freshman defender Michael Coburn who kicked it into the net for his second goal of the season. O'Brien increases his conference leading assist total to 10 and point total to 24.
The Tiger defense held the Blazers without a shot through the first 23 minutes and then finished strong with several outstanding team efforts on excellent attempts by UAB. The Blazers finished the game with 23 shots, the most Memphis has allowed to an opponent all year with the previous high being 16 to USF.
"The shutout is a credit to the team defending," Grant said. "There wasn't one person on the defense that stood out from another. They all did well, and it is an example of the discipline of the whole team."
Vecchio earned his second-straight shutout and fifth of the season. The five shutouts ties the Buenos Aires, Argentina native with USF goalie Dane Brenner for the most shutouts in the conference. Vecchio leads C-USA with four conference shutouts. He also leads the conference with a .70 goals against average and a .862 save percentage.
A loud and supportive crowd cheered on the Tigers and surpassed the team's average attendance for the season by 277 fans.
"The crowd was fantastic," Grant said. "You could sense they wanted a win as much as we did. We really thank them. They've been with us through all our seasons."
The Tigers will play their final regular season home game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday against non-conference foe Belmont (6-6-3, 3-3-1 in Atlantic Sun Conference) at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex. After the game, the four Memphis seniors, Justin Dyer; Daniel Dobson; John Reilly and Sebastian Vecchio, will be honored for their contributions to the program. Tickets for the game are $2 for adults and free for children 18 and under and students with their ID. Memphis will play its final conference game at East Carolina (6-9-0, 2-4-0) on Saturday, Nov. 6.