Lady Tiger Defense Carries Memphis to Third-Straight C-USA Title Game
Nov. 6, 2009
Dallas, Texas - Lady Tiger sophomore midfielder Lizzy Hildebrandt netted the game-winner in the 15th minute and the U of M defense held on for its school-record 11th shutout of the season in a 1-0 victory against Colorado College. Memphis advances to the C-USA title game for the third year in a row to defend its 2007 and 2008 titles.
“I thought it was a great team performance tonight,” head coach Brooks Monaghan said. “I want to give credit to Colorado College because they are a really good team. We had to be very good to win this game. Elise came up big for us tonight when she needed to. Colorado College made us make the saves and Elise came up big. We didn’t execute the chances we had, but our girls gritted it out. It was a great team performance and I am very proud of them. We played a team that was fresh that had the bye and for our kids to work through it, was great.”
C-USA Offensive Player of the Year Ashley Berra recorded her team-leading eighth assist off a corner kick in the 15th minute as Hildebrandt scored her first goal since Sept. 13th. Hildebrandt headed the ball just past the finger tips of Colorado College goalkeeper Caitlin Hulyo. Berra forced the corner kick after firing a shot that was deflected by Hulyo.
“Ashley (Berra) served a great ball and Lizzy (Hildebrandt) has been playing with a lot of confidence,” Monaghan said. “We have asked (Lizzy) to play a different position and she has risen to the occasion. Lizzy has not complained once and she has given us another option by playing in the back.”
Colorado College had a free kick in the 17th minute after a foul on Memphis. Elizabeth Wright played the free kick for Colorado College and fired the shot on frame as Lady Tiger goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters made the save to keep the 1-0 lead for Memphis.
Emily Beans fired a shot in the 38th minute that was blocked and rebounded by NSCAA National Player of the Week Brittney Lyman and blocked again by the Lady Tiger defensive backs. Brennan O’Connell gathered the second rebounded shot and fired another shot for Colorado College that was deflected out of play for a Colorado College corner kick. Wright played the ball after the corner kick and placed the ball on frame and Kuhar-Pitters made her third save of the match to end the Colorado College attack late in the first half.
Colorado College went into the dressing room with an 8-7 shots advantage and a 3-2 shots on goal advantage. Kuhar-Pitters finished the first half with three saves for Memphis and Hulyo finished the half with one save for Colorado College.
“It is always a good feeling to come up with big saves,” goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters said. “I can’t take credit for everything that happened tonight because we win as a team or lose as a team. I wouldn’t be able to do my best without all the girls on the field. It was exciting to get Kelsey back and she added that extra edge on the defense that we needed to win.”
Beans played a shot two minutes into the second half for Colorado College that was deflected by Kuhar-Pitters and cleared out of the penalty area by the Memphis backs.
C-USA Defensive Player of Year Kelsey Bakker returned to the starting line-up for Memphis and recorded a shot in the 59th minute that went inches above the crossbar. Bakker played all 90 minutes on defense for Memphis as the Lady Tigers held Colorado College scoreless for the second time this season.
“That was huge to have Kelsey back,” Monaghan said. “She is a beast back there and she is the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. When you don’t have her, you miss that and we are missing a part of the team when she is not there. We have players that can step in when she is not in there, but (Kelsey) is the player of the year for a reason and it showed tonight.”
Colorado College midfielder Kelly Lavoie found the ball in the middle of the field in the 64th minute and fired a shot from seven yards out that was deflected by Kuhar-Pitters for her fifth save of the match.
Berra created a 1 v 1 situation in the 65th minute, but Hulyo came up with a big save for Colorado College to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of Memphis.
Colorado College forward Tiffany Brown recorded shots in the 79th and 80th minute that were saved by Kuhar-Pitters.
C-USA All-Academic first team selection Brittany Hance helped the defense in the 83rd minute as Lyman had a 1v1 with Hance driving down the sideline. Hance blocked Lyman’s path to the net so Kuhar-Pitters could make the diving stop for Memphis to keep Colorado College from recording another shot.
Colorado College was fouled by Memphis in the 85th minute. Elizabeth Wright played the free kick for Colorado College just outside the 18 yard box and Hildebrandt was able to block the ball out of the attacking zone to end that scoring try for Colorado College.
Colorado College ended the match with a 15-10 shot advantage and a 7-3 shots on goal advantage. Kuhar-Pitters finished with a season-high seven saves and posted her 10th shutout of the season. Sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Boyle and Kuhar-Pitters have combined for a single-season school record 11 shutouts. With 14 career shutouts, Kuhar-Pitters passed former Lady Tiger netiminder Katarina Wicksell for second place on the all-time shutouts list.
“Elise has come up big for us in big moments and tonight was no exception to that,” Monaghan said. “Tonight, her performance deserves to break a record. I am very proud for her and I thought she had a fantastic game.
Kuhar-Pitters also passed Wicksell for second place on the career goalkeeping victories list. The Spokane, Wash. native, has 22 victories in goal for Memphis in her two seasons at the U of M.
The Lady Tigers will face UCF on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in the C-USA Championship Game. The match will be aired live on CBS College Sports.