Lady Tigers Host Arkansas State In Spring Game Thursday
March 16, 2010
Memphis, Tenn. - The University of Memphis women's soccer squad will host its first of two spring contests at Mike Rose Soccer Complex as regional foe Arkansas State will travel for the tilt on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The Lady Tigers played a doubleheader at Burns Park in North Little Rock, Ark., on Feb. 20th against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The results of the game may not have turned out how head coach Brooks Monaghan had expected, but the three-time defending C-USA Champion squad collected some valuable minutes for players who did not see valuable minutes in the fall.
"Hopefully we will be able to build off of that first weekend of the spring," Monaghan said. "The way we approach the spring is we play a lot of players who didn't play a lot of minutes in the fall. This is another chance for us to get back out on the field and play against good competition. Spring games are few and far between and it will be nice to get out there and play against somebody other than ourselves."
The Red Wolves will travel to the Bluff City under new head coach Tafadzwa Ziyenge. Ziyenge inherits a squad that finished with an 8-13-1 record, but advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for the first time in program history.
"Arkansas State is a respectable program and last year they came here and we kind of had our way with them," Monaghan said. "They are not going to forget that and it will be on their minds during the match on Thursday. I expect a tough match with a lot of energy from them. Anytime you have a new coach, the athletes are all trying to prove themselves to the new coach. I expect them to come with the right mentality and work rate and it will be a tough match for us."
Monaghan and staff will make a decision in the next two days to decide who plays in net for the Tigers. Sophomore keeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters saw action in all but one match last season while sophomore Jordan Boyle posted a shutout in her lone match. The third goalkeeper, sophomore Nikki Unland, is also in line to see action in the contest.
"We haven't decided yet what we will do because we don't like to sub keepers in the middle of the half," Monaghan said. "We will probably pick two and play one the first half and one the second half. I don't know which two we will choose. Elise played most of the minutes last year, but we are one injury away from things changing so we want to make sure that Jordan and Nikki are prepared to go if something happens."
Injury wise, Memphis is in great shape heading into the contest. The Lady Tigers had a fitness test Tuesday morning and all the athletes passed, meaning all players are eligible to compete.
"We had a fitness test today (Tuesday) and everybody passed which is great," Monaghan said. "Everybody will be eligible to play in the match. Two of our key players are out, Kelsey Bakker and Laura Laufenberg, but we expect them back soon. Hopefully those two will be playing when we host Mississippi State on April 16."