MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis women's soccer team kicks off the 2011 season on Friday with a 7 p.m. match against LSU at Mike Rose Soccer Complex.
LSU and Memphis meet at Mike Rose Soccer Complex for the second-straight season and the matchup will be the sixth meeting between the programs.
Scouting Memphis Memphis enters the 2011 season as winners of four-straight C-USA Tournament Championships. How many teams have accomplished such a feat? In NCAA Division I Women's Soccer just 13 programs have claimed four or more consecutive conference championships. Memphis and Boston University of the American East Conference carry the nation's longest active championship streak.
The Lady Tigers return nine starters and 15 letterwinners from the 2010 squad. Led by C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, the Memphis defense appears to be the strength of the club as the team readies for the 2011 season.
Nearly half of the roster this season is represented by newcomers with 15 players in their first season of collegiate soccer. With the exception of Kelley Gravlin, a redshirt-freshman, 14 players will see their first minutes of college soccer starting Friday.
Scouting LSU LSU readies for the season opener with a seasoned squad after seven freshmen cracked the Bayou Bengals starting lineup last season. Overall, LSU returns 10 starters and 17 letterwinners from the 2010 squad that finished with an 8-8-5 mark. Senior midfielder Natalie Martineau and junior striker Carlie Banks make their return as LSU's leading goal scorers from a season ago with five goals apiece for the 2010 campaign.
Inside The Series LSU and Memphis meet for the sixth time on Friday. LSU leads the series 3-2, but Memphis has claimed the last two matchups. LSU has outscored Memphis 16-5 in the series, but has been shutout in the last two meetings.
Memphis In Season Openers The U of M has posted a record of 10-6-0 all-time in season openers. Memphis has won seven-straight season openers and 10 of the last 13. In games at home to open the season, Memphis is 5-1 in those games and has won two-straight season openers on the home turf. The Lady Tigers are 11-4-1 all-time in the home opener of each season and has reeled off four-straight wins the home opener dating back to the 2007 season.
Exhibition Ends In 0-0 Draw Memphis and Auburn played to a 0-0 draw in a preseason exhibition match on Aug. 13. Both teams had multiple chances with the Tigers of Memphis holding a 12-11 edge on shots. Auburn placed four shots on frame while Memphis was limited to one. Jordan Boyle played the second half in net and came away with three saves and Elise Kuhar-Pitters made one save in the first half for the U of M. Kylie Davis, Kelley Gravlin and Natalia Gomez-Junco each paced Memphis with two shots in the game. Redshirt-senior Melissa Smith placed the lone shot on goal in the match.
LSU elected not to play an exhibition match prior to the regular season opener. The Bayou Bengals travel to the Bluff City having not played an organized match since April 10.
Preseason Awards/Polls Senior defender Lizzy Simonin was selected the Conference USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the leagues 12 head coaches. Simonin is the reigning C-USA Defensive Player of the Year after moving from forward to defender last season. She was tabbed as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Simonin is the second Lady Tiger in the last two seasons to earn the honor. She was also ranked 73rd in TopDrawerSoccer.com's Preseason Top 100 Upperclassmen. The top 100 upperclassmen list will be updated throughout the season.
The NSCAA Top-25 Preseason Poll was released last week and the Lady Tigers are receiving votes. It is the second-straight season the U of M has opened the season in the polls whether ranked or receiving votes.
The Lady Tigers were picked to finish second in the C-USA Preseason Poll among the head coaches.
Memphis Vs. SEC Opponents The U of M carries a 15-14-1 record all-time against Southeastern Conference Opponents. The Lady Tigers have won four-straight matches against SEC foes and seven of their last nine contests.
Home Field Advantage With an unbalanced schedule this season that has Memphis playing seven road conference matches, the Lady Tigers will need to continue the recent success on the home field. Since 2004, Memphis is 46-17-4 at Mike Rose Soccer Complex. Under head coach Brooks Monaghan, Memphis has a 62-29-6 mark on the home turf.
Battle of Tigers Memphis and LSU share the same mascot and it will be the first of two contests on the Memphis schedule in a "Battle of the Tigers". The U of M takes on the Colorado College Tigers on October 16. Memphis has played 11 matches against an opponent with a Tiger as their mascot. In those games, Memphis is 5-6 with five games against Colorado College (3-2) and LSU (2-3), and one match against Missouri (0-1).
August Rush As the summer winds to a close, the U of M may be sad to see the calendar flip past August. In 16 seasons, Memphis is 14-5-1 all-time in the month of August and is unbeaten in the last 12 matches in the month of August dating back to the 2003 season. Since their last loss in the month of August (8/31/03-Ole Miss), Memphis has outscored its opponents 49-3. Friday's match, August 19 on the calendar, is the earliest season opener in the 16 year history of the program. Last year, Memphis set the earliest with the season opener on August 20.
Head Coach Brooks Monaghan Since taking over the program in 2000, head coach Brooks Monaghan has compiled a record of 125-85-14 in 11 seasons. Monaghan has helped the program claim seven 11-plus win seasons during his tenure. Monaghan has helped the Lady Tigers to an 86-33-9 (.707) record since the 2004 season. Just in the last four seasons, Memphis is 63-20-6 (.742).
What's Back Memphis lost three starters and nine letterwinners from last year's squad. So just how much is there to replace statistically? Take a look below at the table and see.
Defense Wins Championships Over the last four seasons, the Lady Tiger defense has helped the U of M to a 60-4-5 record when opponents score one or fewer goals. In that same span, Memphis has 44 shutouts.
Down But Not Out Last season, Memphis went 2-4 when opponents scored first. The Lady Tigers posted comeback victories over Alabama and Ole Miss. In the last two seasons, Memphis is a combined 3-10 when opponents score first. Of the 31 players on the 2011 roster, 15 have yet to play in a collegiate game. With the exception of Kelley Gravlin, a redshirt-freshman, 14 newcomers join the Lady Tigers for the 2011 campaign. Seven freshmen saw minutes in the exhibition match against Auburn with Gravlin, Kylie Davis and Carly Cassady earning a starting nod.
Program Reaches 150 Wins Now in his 12th season as head coach, Brooks Monaghan as helped the U of M Women's Soccer program reach the 150 win plateau. The Lady Tigers had one 10-plus win season in the first nine seasons as a program, but Memphis has won 11-plus games in each of the past seven seasons. The Lady Tigers enter the 2011 season with an all-time record of 159-144-17.
Three...Is The Magic Number When scoring three or more goals in a match, the U of M carries a 77-6-1 record all-time. Under Head Coach Brooks Monaghan, Memphis is 56-3-1. In the past four seasons in which Memphis has four-straight championships, the record when scoring three or more goals is 22-0-1.
Clean Sheet Last season, Memphis posted 11 shutouts, tied for the second-most in school history. Just in the last two seasons combined, Memphis has kept opponents off the scoreboard in 23 matches. In that span, the Lady Tigers have posted shutouts in three-straight games three times and back-to-back shutouts eight times.
Record Chaser Redshirt-senior goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters begins her fifth season in net for the Lady Tigers on the cusp of breaking multiple goalkeeping records. Already in the top five in minutes played, shutouts, goals-against average, saves and goalkeeping victories, a productive season could have Kuhar-Pitters at the top of each category. Below is a look at where she stands in each category.
One For The Thumb Redshirt-seniors Elise Kuhar-Pitters and Melissa Smith have the unique opportunity to win a fifth championship this season. The pair has endured various injuries throughout their respective career and is headed into the 2011 season as winners of four-straight titles.
Canada...Eh? If you take a look at the Lady Tigers roster you will see seven players from various provinces of Canada. Various Canadians have played a major role in Memphis claiming four-straight C-USA Championships. Of the seven Canadians on the current roster, five of the seven have a combined 14 championship rings. Alex Craig and Kylie Davis are the newest members of Lady Tiger Soccer from Canada.
Live Chat If you can't make it to Mike Rose Soccer Complex for any home game this season, visit GoTigersGo.com and join the live blog. The moderated chat provides in-game updates as an alternative option to GameTracker which relies on statistical information. Today's match is not available for live chat, but each home game throughout the fall will have the live chat option.
Social Media Connection Make sure you follow Memphis Women's Soccer on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MemphisWSoccer) and on Twitter (@UoMWSoccer) for updates throughout the season.
Live Streaming Every home game will be available to watch live streaming video. Memphis Tiger Vision offers a monthly subscription for $9.99 or $79.99 for a year subscription. To access the live streaming, visit GoTigersGo.com and click on the watch icon on the women's soccer page.
GameTracker Every home match this season, plus select road games, will be available to follow on GoTigersGo.com via GameTracker. GameTracker offers users the chance to view the live stats as the game progresses. Just go to GoTigersGo.com, click on the `GameTracker' icon on the women's soccer schedule page.
Up Next After Friday's game, the U of M will welcome Arkansas-Little Rock to the Mike Rose Soccer Complex for a 1 p.m. matchup on Sunday.