Tigers Rally, but Fall to No. 14 Kentucky in Regular Season Finale
Oct. 28, 2006
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Senior defender Jamie Gilbert notched his third goal of the season, but a second half rally by the Tigers fell short as Kentucky forward Riley O'Neill scored two goals, including the game-winner. The 3-1 defeat drops the Tigers to 10-7-0 on the season and 3-5-0 in Conference USA. The Tigers will now prepare for the Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa beginning Nov. 1.
"I thought the way we started the game was very good," head coach Richie Grant said. "We moved the ball well, we created chances. We were getting the ball wide on both sides. We had some great scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes. The first goal changed the game a little bit. I thought they had the momentum after that."
Both teams had quality scoring chances right away. Kentucky had control early as Wildcat senior Masumi Turnbull fired a shot off a corner wide right in the fifth minute and Memphis sophomore Thomas Hyland broke up a pass across the front of the net two minutes later.
The Tigers countered with a scoring chance in the eighth minute as sophomore Jordan Lynn pushed down the left side and served a cross into the box for classmate Tripp Harkins who put a header just over the crossbar. Junior Jared Britcher fired a shot from 20 yards out that was saved by Kentucky keeper Matt Troop six minutes later.
Harkins had another close call in the sixteenth minute after freshman Brian Farrell found Tripp Harkins alone on the right side. However, Troop once again made an impressive save to keep the match scoreless.
The Wildcats threatened again with a header from Micheal Strong, but, fortunately for the Tigers, freshman goalkeeper Michael Goodlett jumped to his left to punch the ball out of the box.
The Wildcats finally struck first at the end of the 35th minute when Kentucky freshman Mark Halma headed in a corner kick from Turnbull to five the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Halma nearly struck again in the 38th minute but his header hit the right post and Goodlett took control of the rebound to keep the Tigers within one.
Memphis had a chance to tie the game in the 43rd minute, but Tropp snared Lynn's free kick from 25-yards out before the Tigers could get control of the ball.
As the first half came to an end, the Tigers went to the locker room trailing 1-0 after being outshot 9-4 in the first 45 minutes.
The Tiger defense stood strong at the start of the second half as Goodlett caught a corner kick to deny a Kentucky attack in the 47th minute and Lynn knocked away a free kick as it sailed toward the net in the two minutes later.
Goodlett shone in net once again when Michael D'Agostino fired a shot toward the net from just inside the box and the freshman keeper punched the shot over the net.
However, Kentucky was able to increase their lead to 2-0 when Riley O'Neill charged down the right side and pushed a ball toward the net. Goodlett tried to kick the ball out, but a deflection knocked it high in the air. When it came down, O'Neill was able to gain control and knocked the ball into the net to give Kentucky the two goal lead in the 72nd minute.
The Tigers began mounting a comeback when senior Jamie Gilbert fired a shot from 25-yards out that deflected off a Kentucky defender and into the net. Gilbert's third goal of the season pulled the Tigers to within one goal in the 76th minute.
"We were a bit disapointed to find ourselves doen 2-0, and I thought it showed great character by Jamie to step forward," Grant said. "Right before he was about to strike, I heard his teammates tell him to take a shot, and he did. It was a great one."
However, after the Tigers turned away a couple of Wildcat scoring chances, Kentucky was able to regain their two-goal lead when D'Agostino found O'Neill down the left side. O'Neill beat Goodlett with a shot into the bottom left corner of the net for his second goal of the match.
The Tigers will return to Memphis before leaving for the Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa beginning Nov. 1.
"We're going to the conference tournament with nothing to lose," Grant said. "The way we played the first half is how we need to perform at conference. The second half leaves us with a bit of work to do."