Lady Tigers Back to Back Champs
Nov. 9, 2008
HOUSTON, TEXAS - The University of Memphis women's soccer team is the 2008 Conference USA Tournament Champions for the second year in a row. The Lady Tigers put together a four goal effort as they upended the East Carolina Pirates to take home the 2008 C-USA Tournament crown. Memphis also improved its 2008 record to 15-4-2 with their C-USA Championship victory.
"I'm just ecstatic for the girls," said head coach Brooks Monaghan. "They were just tremendous this entire weekend. They brought a "No Fear" attitude to this championship. Their character has been great and they deserve this. They have put in so much hard work and hard work pays off."
The Conference USA Championship game kicked off at 1:13 p.m. It took 21 minutes for junior Laura Laufenberg to capitalize on her fourth goal of the season from freshman Lizzy Hildebrandt to give the Lady Tigers an early 1-0 lead.
The Lady Tigers took 10 shots in the first half before ECU got their first on a free kick just outside the top of the box.
At the 37th minute, sophomore Amanda Olszewski sent a corner kick into the box. Senior Emiko Schwab headed a shot at the goal that was blocked by a defender and deflected to the Pirates goalkeeper. The deflected ball squirted away from the keeper. Senior and Memphis career leading goal scorer Kylie Hayes was at the right place at the right time and booted the ball into the corner of the net past the fallen keeper to make the score 2-0.
With 30 minutes remaining in the second half Lizzy Simonin crossed a ball from deep in the corner to the far post. Sophomore Vendula Strnadova picked up the cross and took a short range shot, but the keeper was there to save the shot. The ball bounced right back to Strnadova to put into the net over the keeper for the third score of the game and her eighth goal of the season,.
With 25:14 left, East Carolina cut into the lead by heading a goal off of a throw in to make the score 3-1.
Just over seven minutes remaining in the contest Simonin cleared a ball up the field. Sophomore Ashley Berra streaked past the Pirate defenders and picked up the ball. She beat the approaching keeper and dribbled in for her fifth score of the year to put away the 2008 C-USA Tournament title for the Lady Tigers with a final score of 4-1.
"To have back to back championships means the world for these kids," said Monaghan. "We're enjoying this one and we have another game on Friday to prepare for now. It's a very difficult task to repeat and it shows what a special group that we have. This whole weekend is such a team performance. This championship was won by everybody on the team. I'm so pleased to be a part of this program and I'm proud to be the coach of this group of girls."
The game marks the second time in C-USA Tournament history that a team has scored four goals in the championship game since 1996 in a 4-2 overtime match between Cincinnati and Marquette. The game also marked the second time there was a three goal deficit between the tournament champion and the runner up since Rice shut out UTEP 3-0 in the 2005 C-USA Championship game.
"I'd also like to give East Carolina credit because they had an amazing tournament and a fantastic season as well," said Monaghan. "Fortunately for us we had their number today, but we're pulling for them to also get a tournament bid."
Four Lady Tigers were named to the C-USA All-Tournament team. Laufenberg earned C-USA Offensive MVP of the Tournament for her two game winning goals against UAB on Wednesday and today over East Carolina. Sophomore Kelsey Bakker earned C-USA Defensive MVP of the Tournament. Strnadova who scored the third goal in today's championship game and sophomore Brittany Hance also earned 2008 C-USA All-Tournament Team honors.
"It was well deserved for these girls," said Monaghan. "All of those girls played spectacular and I'm obviously proud of those girls, but they would have not received those awards without their phenomenal teammates and the way everyone contributed this weekend."
With the conference tournament crown, the Lady Tigers earn an automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship and will wait for Monday night for the announcement to hear what seed and host cite they will be traveling to for their first round match.