Memphis Claims Third-Straight C-USA Championship
Nov. 8, 2009
Dallas, Texas - Three is a magic number as Memphis claimed its third-straight Conference USA title with a 3-0 victory against UCF in Sunday's championship match on a mild day at SMU's Westcott Field. The third-seeded Tigers (16-6-0) won their third tournament match in a row, advancing to the finals with wins over SMU and Colorado College.
"I am tickled to death for these kids," head coach Brooks Monaghan said. "I am extremely proud. We were the underdog coming in since we had to play three games. These kids continue to amaze me and it all points back to their character. To win a championship is amazing, but to do it three years in a row leaves me at a loss for words."
Sophomore forward Lizzy Simonin, freshman forward Averi Hallman and junior midfielder Vendula Strnadova each tallied goals for Memphis to give the Lady Tigers an automatic berth into the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship.
Simonin was credited with the game-winner in the 58th minute as she put the Tigers on the scoreboard first. Simonin scored from just inside the box off a pass from Strnadova. Simonin tallied her fourth goal of the season and Strnadova tallied her fourth assist of the season.
"The past game in the first half, I was struggling and coach got on me," sophomore forward Lizzy Simonin said. "I knew I had to pick it up and really wanted a three-peat. I couldn't have scored without the help of my teammates and Vendula served me a great ball. I am very anxious to see where we go in the NCAA Tournament because we are going to have a good week of practice and come out strong wherever we play."
Less than 10 minutes later, Hallman scored her second goal of the season after intercepting a pass about 30 yards out, then Strnadova added the final tally in the 73rd minute. Strnadova scored off a pass from senior Tori Dalton, who was named to the All-Tournament Team.
"Tori, bless her heart, was injured in the preseason and we kept waiting for her to come on," Monaghan said. "She has had the best year of her career and obviously there is more to come."
Freshman forward Taylor Isenhower was named Offensive MVP of the C-USA Championship after posting two goals on the opening night of the tournament. Sophomore midfielder Lizzy Hildebrandt joins Isenhower, Dalton and Kuhar-Pitters as Memphis' representatives on the C-USA All-Tournament Team.
"It feels great to be the Offensive MVP, but I wouldn't have been able to do this without the other 27 girls on this team," freshman forward Taylor Isenhower said. "All the credit goes to them and I am glad to be a part of this third-consecutive championship."
Memphis goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters was named Defensive MVP and made four saves on the afternoon. Neither team was able to make a big threat in the first half of play as Kuhar-Pitters nor UCF sophomore keeper Aline Reis were credited with a save in the first 45 mintues of play.
"It was an exciting game that ended with another shutout," said sophomore goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters. "The defense did great limiting their number of shots on goals and I can't thank them enough for that. I couldn't ask for anything better than getting Defensive MVP."
Kuhar-Pitters claimed the school-record for shutouts in a single-season with her 11th shutout. The Spokane, Wash. native, recorded her 23rd career victory with the win today. Kuhar-Pitters has posted back-to-back shutouts for the fifth time this season and her third shutout against UCF in her career, two of which came this season.
"The thing's this program has done over the years is incredible," Kuhar-Pitters said. "It shows the character of this team and our drive to win another championship."
UCF (16-4-1), who won the C-USA regular season title for the third time in the last five years, had its 10-match win streak snapped with the loss. The Knights last defeat was against Memphis on Sept. 27. Lauren Halbert and Becca Thomas, who combined for UCF's goal in its 1-0 semifinal win over UAB, were named to the all-tournament team along with junior Amanda Martorana.
UCF outshot Memphis 15-7 in the match, but both teams could only place four shots on frame. Memphis was led by Simonin and Strnadova who each tallied two shots in the match.
Strnadova passed assistant coach Jodi Grant for second place in the career shot ranks. With two shots in today's match, Strnadova has posted 179 career shots and trails former Lady Tiger Kylie Hayes for first place by 17 shots.
The Lady Tigers will await tomorrow night's NCAA Women's Soccer Championship selection show on ESPNU at 7 p.m.