Back to Work for Men's Soccer Team
Aug. 12, 2005
For Immediate Release
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- With a midnight run on Wednesday, Aug. 17, the No. 27 University of Memphis men's soccer team will kick off its training for the 2005 season. The Tigers will then hold practice on Thursday and Friday from 9-11 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. before taking on cross-town rival Christian Brothers University in an exhibition match. Memphis will play CBU on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex.
The Tigers open the season at home on Saturday, Sept. 3 as they host the seventh annual Memphis Diadora Tournament. Participating schools in the tournament include Oral Roberts, Centenary and Belmont.
Not much has changed from last year for the Tigers. Although the program is coming off its best season in school history, the team's approach remains the same.
"Last year we played with the purpose to prove that we are a really good team," said Memphis head coach Richie Grant. "It was a team that was highly motivated and achieved a taste of success as a result. Our players want to continue with those experiences. They want to advance the program to a higher level than where we currently are. We're well aware that there is a lot more for us to do."
After winning both the Conference USA regular and tournament championships in 2004, Memphis plans to build on its success with an experienced and talented team in a competitive realigned conference.
In 2004, Grant took a team comprised of 14 freshmen and turned it into the 10th-most improved team in the nation from 2003. This year the Tigers again have a large freshman group with 10 signees joining the squad in the fall, but the team returns several sophomores with championship-playing experience and six upperclassmen with proven leadership abilities.
"The quality and maturity of the players will ultimately determine the success of the team," Grant said. "We have a great balance of experienced veteran players mixed in with young players that played last year and got to experience winning a conference tournament."
Returning to the coaching staff is Robert Nicholson, who enters his third year at Memphis, and Carl Schmitt, who is in his second year. Remco de Jong joins the staff this year as a volunteer goalkeeper coach.
"The coaching staff has taken on some consistency now that we've been together for a full campaign last year," Grant said. "The players are very comfortable with the staff. They know the expectations that we have for them. All the coaches know our roles within the program."
Also proving he could be a potent threat up front, sophomore Marcus McCarty began and ended the season strong, scoring eight goals while missing the middle of the season due to a broken ankle. Senior Cormac McArdle played the forward position for the Tigers in the spring and has the potential to put up big numbers as well. Freshman Kyle Minter will also be given the opportunity to play with the group.
"As a coach, you try to make sure you have good options," Grant said. "There's tremendous competition at the forward position this year, which was the foundation of our success last year. Up front we feel like we have options, and we have the ability to move some of those players into other positions as well."
Wide on the left, Grant will look to McArdle, who played well at the position when healthy last year. However, O'Brien and McCarty are also an option at the spot. The departure of Reilly has left a wide hole on the right, but sophomore Jared Britcher has been impressive in the position during the spring.
Memphis loses an experienced center defender in Justin Dyer, but Grant believes he will have several options to fill the void. Coburn has the potential to move to the center to replace Dyer and freshmen Thomas Hyland, Jordan Lynn, Frank Judice and Tomo Koyano as well as sophomore Patrick Ahern, who transferred from Evansville, will all be given chances to step into the opening voids.
"We have two good goalkeepers who will have tremendous competition for the starting job," Grant said. "That decision will be made on a week-to-week basis, but we believe they are both capable of helping us win a championship. They've come in and done well in the spring, and they are anchored by a good defense.
"It's a great time to be a goalkeeper here," Grant Added. "Our team defending is quite well. But we will still need them to come up big for us the way Sebastian did for us last year."
"We're really pleased about the strength of our schedule this year and the variety of schools that we play in and out of conference," Grant said. "As the conference changed, you're always hoping you maintain a good schedule. We were very fortunate that the schools that merged in the new C-USA brought about a very exciting men's soccer league."