Tiger Soccer 2000 Season Outlook
Aug. 10, 2000
Memphis, Tenn - As Tiger head coach Richie Grant heads into his second season at the helm of the Memphis Men's Soccer Team, he does so with a balanced ship. A team that is heavy on experience and leadership will be counterbalanced by the addition of ten freshmen to the roster. A team that has added several potent weapons on the offensive end has also shored up its defensive side with the addition of several key players. And a Tiger team that has always balanced local talent with talent from abroad has added players from Memphis, Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Vermont, Ireland, and Norway.
The Tigers lost six seniors off of last season's roster, and they are counting on this years crop of seniors to step up and take Memphis soccer to the next level. Leadership from Nick Glaser and Michael Shipman in the Tiger midfield and Ryan Schwaigert in the defense will be counted on, since many of the incoming freshmen will see significant playing time. In the front lines, senior Tommy White joins juniors Sean Fraser and Lars Thorstensen in a potent offensive combination of speed, physical play and footskills. White brings speed and an aggressive mentality into his fourth season with the Tigers, and Fraser led the team in shots and goals and was selected to the second-team all-C-USA in 1999. Thorstensen is coming to the Tigers after spending the last two seasons at NAIA Lambuth in Jackson, Tenn., where he scored 56 goals in two seasons to lead the Lambuth men's team through the Mid South Conference and was selected as an NAIA all-American as a sophomore. Sophomore Kirk Ricketts also returns for his second season as a Tiger after scoring one goal in nine appearances in 1999.
In the midfield, seniors Nick Glaser and Michael Shipman will be joined again by junior Justin Stralka, who is expected to play a significant role on both the offensive and defensive sides of the field this season. Junior Ken Matsuba returns after missing much of last season with a foot injury, and the upperclassmen will welcome four newcomers to the Tiger midfield. Local high school standout Grant Paule, Texans Michael Floyd and Dusty Brezovsky, and Wisconsin native Nelson Ennis will all be counted on to contribute significant minutes in the Tiger midfield this season. Grant Paule has an excellent grasp of the game and impressive skills, as he proved by leading his Houston H.S. team to a second consecutive NSCAA national championship in the spring of 2000. Brezovsky and Ennis are both natural left-sided players, which the Tigers lacked last season.
On the defensive end, the Tigers return two of the three consistent starters at the defender position from the 1999 squad. Stephen Lewis, a junior, and Ryan Schwaigert, a senior, will command the Tiger backfield as co-captains this season. They are joined by senior David Medlock, who started the final two matches of the season, sophomore Chris Schmidt, and newcomers Graham Gibbs, Josh Ravit, and Cory Shumate. Gibbs is an Irish recruit who has great potential and is expected to have an immediate impact on the Tiger defense. Shumate is a Bartlett, Tenn. native and another product of the Memphis Futbol Club, which also produced Tommy White, Ryan Schwaigert, Stephen Lewis, and former Tigers Brian Covey, Joey Lewis, and Stephen Brooks. Josh Ravit is a Vermont native who brings excellent size and a strong right foot to the defensive arsenal of the Tigers.
That defense will be counted on heavily, since all three goalkeepers on the roster this season are true freshmen. Local high school standout Clark Talley, who teamed with Paule on that National Championship team for the last two seasons, elected to stay home and will compete for the starting spot this season. He will be challenged by Joshua Schmidt, another freshman who possesses a great amount of potential, and by Josh Isaacs, an exciting player who promises to be an emotional leader from the net for Memphis in years to come.
Coach Grant also made some changes to the schedule going into his second season with the Tiger soccer program. The Tigers open the season by hosting the Memphis Invitational, which will include Birmingham Southern, Marshall, and Belmont, before travelling to invitational tournaments at Southwest Missouri State, Charlotte, and South Florida. Memphis will host conference games against perennial top-10 Saint Louis, defending regular season conference champion UAB, Marquette, and Louisville, as well as nonconference games against Western Kentucky, Lipscomb University, and Alabama A&M. It promises to be an exciting season at the U of M this season, as experience and youth take the field together to take Tiger soccer to the next level with a new brand of soccer.
As the coaching staff prepares to enter its second season at the helm of Tiger Soccer, they are very interested in getting and staying in touch with past Tiger players and all the Tiger Soccer supporters. Any former players or boosters are asked to send an email address or other means of contact to Tiger assistant coach Ryan Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that the coaches may be able to keep in touch with updates and information throughout the year.