Mixture of Experience and Youth Comprises Men's Soccer Roster
Aug. 25, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis Tigers men's soccer team returns a core of upperclassmen for the upcoming season and added a stable of young players to complement that experience. After a disappointing 2010 campaign, the Tigers began preparing for the 2011 season immediately and put last year in the rearview mirror.
Memphis returns its top four scorers from last season, forward Mark Sherrod, forward Parker Duncan, midfielder Liam Collins, and defender Thomas Shannon. Midfielder Cody McCoy, who was second on the team in minutes played last season, joins Duncan and Shannon as the three seniors on the team.
Juniors Andreas Guentner and J.J. Greer are expected to contribute to the team again this season. Redshirt-junior Tiago Reichert returns from an injury that ended his 2010 season just three games into the schedule.
Chandler Gagnon, two-time (2010 and 2011) Gatorade Tennessee Boys Soccer Player of the Year, leads a talented class of freshman expected to make an immediate impact on the pitch.
The foundation of this year's team is its hard work, a trait demonstrated by the emergence of team-leaders Shannon, Guentner, McCoy, and Collins. They have set the tone during each training session. This should be one of the better led men's soccer teams in recent years.
As the opening game against Lipscomb approaches, the Tigers are optimistic for the season. After earning a 1-1 draw against Conference USA foe and fifth-ranked SMU and a 2-0 victory against the Brazilian professional team Botafogo, the team is very encouraged about the start of the season. This year's edition of the men's soccer team brings energy, toughness, and a desire to improve every time they step onto the pitch.
Memphis will play in two regular season tournaments this year, the Wisconsin Soccer Classic and Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic hosted by Bradley University. At the Wisconsin Soccer Classic Memphis will face the University of Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin. The Tigers play host Bradley and Evansville at the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic in Peoria, Illinois.
In addition to the two-tournaments, Memphis will face non-conference foes Lipscomb, Missouri State, and Nebraska-Omaha at home and Belmont and Central Arkansas on the road.
In the opening match of the 2011 Conference USA season Memphis hits the pitch for a game against South Carolina, the 15th-ranked team in NSCAA's Pre-Season Poll. The Tiger's will also host conference adversaries FIU, Kentucky, and UCF. Away from Mike Rose Stadium in conference play, Memphis will face Marshall, Tulsa, UAB, and NSCAA Pre-Season No. 5 SMU.
After having a thin goalkeeping corps last season, the Tigers added experience, athleticism, and depth to the position. Lambuth transfer Conor Hurley is currently slated as the top goalkeeper on the depth chart, but the competition at the position has been stiff thus far.
The Tigers will also rely on the experience of junior Jordan Leedle. Leedle returns after starting 13 games as a sophomore last season and recording a 1.40 goals against average. Freshmen newcomer Cody Uzcategui is a confident, athletic, and hardworking keeper that will push for time minding the net. Fellow freshman Matt Derrington came into preseason workouts striving to work hard and has made strides each training session.
Memphis is fortunate to have goalkeeper coach Remco de Jong, who utilizes his experience and wisdom of the position to teach the players. Despite intense competition for playing time at the position, the four goalkeepers display great camaraderie with one another.
The coaching staff is very encouraged by the play of the backline thus far in exhibition play. Thomas Shannon returns after a season-ending injury nine games into the 2010 season and brings with him a wealth of experience.
Shannon is joined by Jordan Johnson, who also brings experience to the back line. J.J. Greer has made the conversion from center forward to center back. Highly touted freshman Chandler Gagnon has been as advertised. Gagnon has made an immediate impact on the backline. He clearly loves the game and is committed to improving.
Tanner Thomspon makes the backline better every day with his insatiable work ethic and positive attitude on the pitch. B.J. Williams will provide a spark to the backline or as a defending midfielder. Scott Elliott is young, but is learning and gaining valuable experience on a daily basis. In certain situations, Andreas Guentner may also be used on the backline.
As a group, the backline has been very encouraging. They have quickly developed an identity. In the SMU exhibition, the starting four played all 90 minutes and withstood the Mustangs strong attack.
The midfield has been work in progress, but they are the heartbeat of the team. If everything goes according to plan, each game should go through them. The starting group of Liam Collins, Andreas Guentner, and Cody McCoy display a good understanding of one another and their strengths. They compliment each other both athletically and technically. In order for Memphis to succeed this season, these three must step up and have big seasons.
Wil Linder has already made his presence felt and will continue to grow into the position as he earns playing time throughout the year. He is a good passer that makes noticeable improvements daily.
Shane Keely is a new addition to the team as a transfer from University College of Dublin. He is comfortable with the ball and demonstrates great technical ability. Keely is adaptable and can play several positions.
Dennis Kennetz will receive a medical redshirt this season due to injury.
Mark Sherrod will anchor the attack for the Tigers. Sherrod has a sharp game and possesses a good "eye for the goal." He is a game changer that is learning to use his strengths better. Sherrod will be a focal point for the Memphis attack.
Senior Parker Duncan returns for his final season as a Tiger and will serve in an attacking midfield/forward role. Duncan, the team's leading scorer in each of his first three seasons, possesses a healthy appetite for success.
Tiago Reichert, returning from an injury that sidelined him for most of last season, is rounding into better physical condition. He adds a physical presence to the frontline. Reichert needs to improve his knack for scoring and the team needs to find him in the box more often.
Austin Gross is great coming off the bench. He brings energy, toughness, and an ability to get his head on the ball on crosses. Lewis Ellis is off to a strong start, scoring in the alumni scrimmage and tallying the loan goal against No. 5 SMU during the first exhibition. He's demonstrated an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Patrick Toh, Jr. is a sponge. He improves with each training session because of his hard work. Toh possesses the speed necessary to slip behind an opponent's defense and wreak havoc. Paul Banks is another talented freshman, but needs to gain more experience playing at the collegiate level.