No. 15 Tigers Return to Memphis
Sept. 29, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn- For the first time in over two weeks, the No. 15 University of Memphis men's soccer team (7-2-0, 0-1-0 C-USA) will return to Mike Rose Soccer Complex when they host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-6-0, 1-0-0 C-USA) on Saturday at 7 p.m. Fans presenting a ticket stub from the Memphis-UT football game earlier on Saturday and any fan wearing a soccer jersey will receive free admission.
The last time Memphis took the pitch at Mike Rose, they picked up a 2-0 win over Central Arkansas to push their home winning streak to three games. The Tigers then took to the road for three straight games and came away with two victories. Memphis defeated Air Force 3-1 on Sept. 15 and Denver 2-1 two days later before opening C-USA play at No. 11 South Carolina on Sept. 24 and dropping a 2-1 heartbreaker in double overtime to the Gamecocks.
"Obviously, we were disappointed after the game, but the mood on the team is excellent. We're ready to play another game. We've trained very hard this week and the lads can't wait to play again," head coach Richie Grant said. "We're looking for bounce back ability, right now. This team has been resilient all year and we're looking for a good response after a tough game."
The Tigers four game road winning streak, which tied a school record set in 1996-97 and again in 2004, came to an end at South Carolina. However, Memphis retained their No. 15 national ranking in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll. The Tigers are also ranked second in the Midwest region by the NSCAA behind conference rival SMU and ahead of C-USA teams UAB and Kentucky.
The Tigers will look to regain their winning form when they open their home conference schedule against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane has had an up-and-down season that has lead to a 3-6-0 record. Tulsa defeated early season ranked opponent UW-Milwaukee and took tough losses from nationally ranked teams such as Brown, Indiana, and New Mexico. The Golden Hurricane proved they were still a dangerous team when they picked up the 2-1 win in their C-USA opener against UCF on Sept. 23. However, a 1-0 loss to Centenary on Sept. 26 means Tulsa will also be looking to get back on track.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Mike Rose Soccer Complex. The Tigers will hit the road again when they continue C-USA play by visiting UCF on Oct. 4.
Thanks in large part to a strong line of forwards and attacking midfielders, the Memphis attack continues to be ranked among the top offenses in the nation, outscoring opponents 21-12 in nine games. Junior Midfielder Kevin Walsh leads the Tigers with six goals and seven assists. However, with Walsh forced to sit out of Saturday's contest after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, the Tigers will look elsewhere provide a scoring threat.
Sophomore midfielder Tripp Harkins has five goals on the season, already surpassing the total from his freshman season.
Harkins' classmate Shaun Goulding has also proven to be a dependable scoring threat, notching two game-winning goals and recording three assists.
Junior forward/midfielder Jared Britcher is back to full health after sitting out three games due to illness. In just six games, Britcher has recorded three goals.
Meanwhile, freshman forward Brian Farrell has scored three times and added two assists in the first nine games of his career.
Altogether, the Tiger midfielders and forwards have combined for 19 of the team's 21 goals and have lead the Tiger offense into the national rankings.
"Basically, we need to keep doing what we're doing," Grant said. "We're playing well right now. We've played some our best futbol in our two losses. Unfortunately, we'll need to replace Kevin, but we feel that area is well taken care of. We're just looking for our players to welcome the opportunity to play in another tough game."
TIGERS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Scoring Offense: 15th (2.33 goals per game)
Win-Loss-Tie Percentage: 22nd (0.778)
Points per Game: Kevin Walsh 11th (2.11)
Assist per Game: Kevin Walsh 5th (0.78)
The Best Defense...
Senior defender Jamie Gilbert has been helping the Tiger attack from the backfield. The transfer from Vanderbilt has two goals on the season, both of them game-winners. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native is tied for the team lead in game-winners with Shaun Goulding.
"We've won some very tight games in non-conference thanks to Shaun and Jamie scoring important goals," Grant said. "We've been real pleased with Jamie's attacking contribution from the back, and Shaun has the ability to have a big impact on all conference games."