No. 23 Tigers Focused on UMKC
Sept. 8, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn.- The University of Memphis men's soccer team enters their fifth match of the season coming off a hard-fought loss to No. 4 Clemson and a hard-fought win against Cal State Fullerton. Following last week's games, the Tigers were honored with their highest ranking in neraly a year when the National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranked the Tigers No. 23 in their first regular season poll.
The Tigers next opponent has had a tougher time recently. The UMKC Kangaroos are 0-4-0 on the season and are in the middle of a five game road trip. However, the Tigers are not resting on their recent success or taking the Kangaroos lightly.
"The rankings really don't matter to us," head coach Richie Grant said. "We're preparing for a tough game with UMKC. This is a team that has been in some close games and not come out with the results they wanted. So I expect they will come in here well prepared for their next match."
The Tigers have been led by their defense of late. After allowing four goals in the season's first two games, the Tigers held Clemson to two goals (Clemson entered the game having scored 12 goals in the previous two matches), then shutout Cal State Fullerton.
The Tigers will try to get their offense back on track against UMKC, after scoring just one goal last week. However, Grant likes the way he sees his team coming together after the first two weeks of the season.
"I've been really pleased, because there's a bit of an element of the unknown when you have four or five first years playing and three or four transfers playing. You're always trying to find your team, but I think the team is showing that they're moving in the right direction."
Entering the 2006 season, the Univestiy of Memphis men's soccer team had only one senior on the squad. And even he, transfer Jamie Gilbert, was new to the team. The Tigers have relied on youth for better or worse this season and so far it has paid off to the tune of a 3-1-0 start.
Goalkeeper Michael Goodlett has started every game in net, and platooned with junior Tyler Strom while adjusting to the college game. Goodlett picked up the win in his first career start and played every minute of the season-opening comback overtime win over Louisville. His last time out, he recorded his first career shutout and played all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Cal State Fullerton.
Defender Rick Alleman stepped in for Michael Coburn, a two-year stalwart on defense, after the junior suffered an ankle injury in the exhibition opener against Christian Brothers. Alleman has made a name for himself breaking up attacks ever since, including a highlight reel slide tackle against Clemson.
Forward Brian Farrell has shown an ability to move the ball and put shots on net. While still looking for his first goal, Farrell recorded his first assist against Cal State Fullerton by working a give and go with junior Adam Montgomery to feed junior Kevin Walsh. The Tigers will continue to count on him as junior forward Jared Britcher recovers from an illness.
"You just don't know when the opportunity is going to come for you, and I think all of these freshmen have made the most of the opportunity that's come their way," Grant said. "Rick stepped straight in when Coburn was injured. Brian has played up front every game and his contribution is getting better and better with each match. Wade, whether he starts or comes off the bench, is very calm on the ball. He's been a good addition to the team as well. Obviously Michael, to give up no goals against a strong attacking team like Cal Fullerton should give him some confidence going into the next game."
The 923 people that turned out to support the Tigers against No. 5 Clemson on Sept.1 made up the largest crowd in the history of Tiger soccer at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex. The school band even made an appearance.
"We can't thank them enough. I hope they keep coming out," head coach Richie Grant said. "We felt that they were a strong addition to the atmosphere. I know our players would be excited to have the expectation of a big crowd. It adds a bit of school spirit, and it makes Mike Rose very much a home for us. We've played well there, so it's very important that we make it feel as much as home as possible."
Imigh Tiogar Imigh
Once again, in 2006 the University of Memphis men's soccer team is seeing strong contributions from its corps of celtic players.
Junior Kevin Walsh, a native of Shrule, Ireland, leads the team in assists (four) and points (eight) and is tied for the team lead in goals (two).
Sophomore Shaun Goulding, a native of Arbroath, Scotland, recorded the game-winning goal in overtime against Belmont on Aug. 27 for his first goal of the season. Goulding has recorded six shots on goal and will be a vital part of the Tigers' attack.
Freshman Brian Farrell, a Dunboyne, Ireland native, recorded his first point on Sept. 1 by assisting countryman Walsh on his second goal of the year.
Junior Michael Coburn has yet to play this season after injuring his ankle in the preseason. However, Coburn could return to the lineup later in the season. The Dundalk, Ireland, native has made a name for himself as a presence in the Tiger defense his first two years.