Sept. 1, 2005
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The No. 24 University of Memphis men's soccer team opens its season as host of the seventh-annual Memphis Diadora Tournament beginning Saturday, September 3 at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex. 2004 tournament champion Oral Roberts will take on Belmont in the opening game at 5 p.m. followed by the Tigers facing Centenary at 7:30 p.m. The tournament concludes on Monday, September 5 with Belmont playing Centenary in the 5 p.m. game and Oral Roberts taking on Memphis at 7:30 p.m. Oral Roberts enters the tournament after beating No. 14 Tulsa 3-1.
Last year Memphis went 1-1 in the tournament, beating Centenary 1-0 before falling to Oral Roberts 1-0 in its only home loss of the season. Since the loss, the Tigers have gone on to win seven-straight games at home. Memphis will have a chance to tie the program's longest home winning streak of nine set in 1992-93. The Tigers have only won the Memphis Diadora Tournament once, winning it in 2002. The U of M has a 7-4-1 record in the tournament.
This is the fourth tournament appearance for Centenary who has an 0-6 record in the competition. Oral Roberts won the tournament in its first appearance last year and has a 2-0 record. Belmont also is making its second appearance and is 0-2 in the tournament with its last appearance in 2000.
Tickets for the game are $5 for adults, $3 for youth and free for children under six and U of M students with student ID card.
Last Week - Tigers Finish Preseason Perfect
Led by seniors Dayton O'Brien and Andy Metcalf, the Tigers earned its third-straight shutout and finished the preseason 3-0 after beating Lambuth 6-0 at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex on Friday. O'Brien scored a goal and had two assists while Metcalf scored a hat trick in the first 32 minutes of the game. Sophmore Marcus McCarty had two second-half goals off assists from freshmen Thomas Hyland and Kyle Minter. Freshman Robert Sausaman also had an assist in the game.
Memphis vs. Centenary
Memphis and Centenary have met seven times with the Tigers holding a 5-2 advantage. The first time the two teams met was in 1992 with Memphis winning 4-0. Centenary is making its fourth appearance in the Memphis Diadora Tournament and has a 0-6 record. The Tigers have faced the Gents three previous times in the tournament and have won all three matches by outscoring Centenary 7-3. Memphis has a three-game winning streak against the Gents with the last loss coming in 1995 at Shreveport, La., in a 2-4 defeat.
The Gents lost both of their preseason games, falling to Tyler Junior College 6-0 and William Carey 4-0. Last year Centenary went 4-9-2 and 0-5-1 in the Mid-Continent Conference to finish seventh. The team is picked to finish seventh in the Mid-Con and returns five of its 11 starters from 2004 and 11 letterwinners. The team is coached by Eric Mayo who is in his second year with a 4-9-2 overall record.
Memphis vs. Oral Roberts
The Tigers have a 4-1-0 advantage against the Golden Eagles with the one loss coming in the 2004 Memphis Diadora Tournament. Oral Roberts beat Memphis 1-0 in the Tigers only home loss of the season. The first time the two schools met came in 1989 with Memphis winning 3-1. The Tigers have outscored ORU 12-2 in five games. The two teams have met in 1989, 1993-94, 1999 and 2004.
Scouting Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts enters the tournament after upsetting No. 14 Tulsa 3-1 in its season opener. In 2004, Oral Roberts won the Mid-Continent Conference with a 11-5-1 overall record and were 6-0-1 in league play. The Golden Eagles are picked to finish first in the conference again in 2005 led by 2004 Mid-Con Offensive Player of the Year Dave Leung and All-Conference Jorge Flor. ORU returns eight of its 11 starters from 2004 and 12 letterwinners. They are coached by Steve Hayes who is in his eighth year with the school and has a 56-66-4 record. The Golden Eagles begin the season at No. 14 Tulsa on Sept. 1.
Memphis in Top 30 Nationally to Begin Season
For the first time ever in the program's history, Memphis opens the season nationally ranked. The Tigers come in at No. 24 in Soccer Times' Preseson Top 25. The U of M is one of three Conference USA teams to be ranked by Soccer Times with SMU ranked at No. 9 and Tulsa at No. 16. South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky and FIU have also received votes the preseason polls. The Tigers are ranked in two of the four preseason polls. Memphis comes in at No. 27 in College Soccer News' Preseason Top 30.
O'Brien Named to Hermann Trophy Watch
Senior midfielder Dayton O'Brien was named among the 25 players selected to the 2005 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List. The list, announced by the Missouri Athletic Club, was compiled by a panel of coaches from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). He is the first player from the University of Memphis to make the list. A list of 15 semifinalists for the award will be announced in early November, with the three finalists announced in December. The trio will be invited to St. Louis for a news conference and dinner held at the Missouri Athletic Club on Jan. 6, 2006, where the winner of the award will be revealed. The winner is determined through voting of NCAA Division I members of the NSCAA.
Conference USA Rated Fourth Toughest Conference in 2005
Conference USA was rated as the fourth toughest conference in College Soccer News 10 Toughest Conferences in 2005. "About the only thing that has not changed is the number of teams in the league which has remained constant at 10 ... C-USA seems to have come out on the plus side of the ledger in terms of overall competitiveness when you compare the teams that have moved elsewhere to the teams that have joined the league ... Five, maybe six, C-USA teams have a good shot at earning a berth (in the NCAA Tournament) in 2005." Conference USA finished behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten and the Big East.
O'Brien Selected to CSN Preseason All-America First Team
Senior midfielder Dayton O'Brien was named to College Soccer News Preseason All-America First Team. O'Brien is the first Tiger player in the program's history to receive the preseason national honor. The selection comes after O'Brien became the first Tiger soccer player to earn All-America status after the 2004 season when he was named to the Second Team of both the CSN and NSCAA/adidas All-America teams. Joining O'Brien on the CSN All-America First Team is the C-USA preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Kentucky's goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. C-USA preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year Leandro de Oliveira of UAB was a Second Team selection.
Tiger Irish Defense
When the Tigers open its 2005 season, the possibility is good for of an all-Irish defense. All four possible Memphis starting defenders hail from Ireland. All-Conference senior Gary Connolly (Dundalk, Ireland) returns to stable the back while sophomore Michael Coburn (Dundalk, Ireland) is resumes his spot at right fullback. After playing primarily as a midfielder/forward during his junior season and in the spring, senior Cormac McArdle (Dundalk, Ireland) moves to left fullback to replace the departure of Mark Gourlay. Filling the hole left by the graduation of Justin Dyer, freshman Thomas Hyland (Dublin, Ireland) has settled into the center position.
Through the first three exhibition games, the Tiger Irish Defense has held opponents scoreless and limited them to a combined nine shots on goal. The 2004 defense led Conference USA in virtually every defensive stat and the 2005 backside looks to continue the tradition. Another ingredient that could figure in the mix is sophomore goalkeeper Gavin McInerney who is also from Dublin, Ireland.
O'Brien Tabbed as Preseason C-USA Off. POY
Senior forward Dayton O'Brien, the defending C-USA Offensive Player of the Year, and UAB's Leandro de Oliveira have been named the Preseason C-USA Co-Offensive Players of the Year. Kentucky senior goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum was chosen as the Preseason C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. O'Brien, a second team All-America selection, led the Tigers to their first C-USA Championship with eight goals on the season. He also enters the 2005 season holding the school record for career assists with 26. Senior forward Andy Metcalf also joins O'Brien on the C-USA Player's to watch list. Metcalf led the Tigers with 12 goals in 2004 and has compiled 27 goals and 7 assists in his career.
Tigers Picked Third in C-USA Preseason Poll
The defending Conference USA champion Tigers were selected to finish third in the conference by the league's coaches in the C-USA preseason poll. Under the guidance of 2004 C-USA Coach of the Year Richie Grant, Memphis won its first C-USA regular season and tournament championships in 2004, earning the program's second-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 16-4-1 record. No. 7 SMU, under the direction of 2004 NSCAA/adidas Midwest Region Coach of the Year Schellas Hyndman, was selected to win the conference championship. The Mustangs posted a 16-4-1 overall record last season as they advanced to their 11th consecutive NCAA postseason appearance, and 20th out of the last 21 years. SMU was ousted in the third round of the NCAA Tournament by No. 14 Tulsa, who was picked second in the coaches' vote. The Golden Hurricane returns 13 letterwinners from a team that finished the season ranked No. 8 nationally and lost to national champion Indiana in the NCAA Tournament.
Tigers Kick Off 2005 with Midnight Run
With a midnight run on Wednesday, Aug. 17, the Tigers kicked off its training for the 2005 season. 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."
A Successful Spring
The Tigers had one of their most succesful springs, finishing 9-2-1. Seven of the nine wins were shutouts as Memphis outscored its opponents 29-13. Six of the allowed goals came in a 6-2 loss to Major League Soccer's FC Dallas. The Tigers won both the Memphis Cup and Tim McCage 7v7.
Three top 15 teams headline the 2005 fall schedule. The Tigers will face new Conference USA foes No. 14 University of Tulsa and No. 7 Southern Methodist University as well as travel to meet No. 12 Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. After entering the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history, Memphis hopes to make a repeat appearance with a stronger schedule. As the returning C-USA regular season and tournament champions, Memphis will face an entirely revamped conference schedule. Gone this year from C-USA are Charlotte, Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Saint Louis and South Florida. Taking their place to join Memphis, East Carolina and UAB are Tulsa, SMU, South Carolina, Kentucky, Marshall, Florida International and Central Florida. Five of the seven incoming schools competed in the NCAA Tournament last year.
Tigers in the NCAA Tournament
Memphis played its first NCAA Tournament game since 1993 at No. 30 Ohio State in the first round. It is the second appearance in the program's history. The Tiger lost to Indiana in the first round of their previous appearance, 6-0. The 1-0 loss to Ohio State was the first meeting between the two schools. The Buckeyes received an at-large bid after tying with Indiana for the Big Ten regular season title. OSU was knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament in the first round by Michigan. Ohio State made its third NCAA appearance in five years. They then went on to upset No. 5 Notre Dame in the second round.