Sept. 22, 2011
HOUSTON – One of three remaining unbeaten and untied squads at the NCAA Division I level (along with Oklahoma State and Wofford), the University of Memphis women’s soccer team (8-0-0) heads to Houston to open Conference USA play this weekend. The Lady Tigers face Houston (3-5-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. before going across town to face Rice (5-2-1) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The U of M has scored 22 goals this season coming from 11 different players. The 22 goals in the first eight matches are the most since the 2007 season when the squad had 23 goals. The 22 goals are tied for the third-most all-time through eight matches, behind the 2005 squad that scored 26 and the 2007 club.
Along with five clean sheets by Elise Kuhar-Pitters, the Lady Tiger defense has held opponents to five or fewer shot on goal attempts in every match this season. The U of M defense didn’t allow a goal in the first half during non-conference play and opponents have mustered just 7.88 shots per-game.
A New Season Begins
After a perfect 8-0 mark in the non-conference slate, Memphis opens C-USA with four-straight road games. The Lady Tigers are one of three league members (UCF and Rice) that play seven road games and four home matches in league play. Houston, Southern Miss and UAB each have five home and six road matches while Colorado College, Marshall and SMU have six home and five road matches. UTEP, Tulsa and East Carolina have seven home and four road matches.
Memphis opens league play on the road for the third-straight season. The Lady Tigers are 6-9-1 all-time in road openers of league play. The U of M has won six-straight road openers in conference play, outscoring opponents 12-3. Memphis is 7-7-2 all-time in the conference opener, with nine of the 16 openers at home.
Houston enters league play with a 3-5 record to date. The Cougars started the season 0-5, but Houston has won its last three matches. The Cougars have 14 goals on the season, but nine of those 14 goals came in the match against Texas Southern. Jessica Zavalza leads the club with five goals on the season and Kelsey Zamora has added three scores. Cami Koski has seen the bulk of the time in net for Houston. Koski carries a 0.91 goals-against average and 21 saves. George Sydney has logged 223:33 minutes in goal and gathered nine saves.
The Owls open C-USA play against UAB on Friday before the match with the Lady Tigers on Sunday. Rice sits at 5-2-1 on the season with their most recent result being a 3-2 double-overtime victory over Western Kentucky. Jessica Howard leads the squad with five goals on the season. As a club, Rice has 12 goals by seven different players. Amy Czyz has logged most of the minutes in goal for the Owls and carries a 0.61 goals-against average in the eight matches played. Czyz has 16 saves and four shutouts on the season.
Inside The Series
Memphis and Houston meet for the 14th time on Friday. The series is deadlocked at 6-6-1 with Memphis carrying an unbeaten mark of 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings. The Lady Tigers earned a 1-0 victory in the C-USA Tournament semifinal last season after the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in regular season play.
Memphis and Rice square off for the sixth time on Sunday. The U of M carries a 3-1-1 lead in the series having earned a 1-0 victory last season. The Owls earned a 2-1 win in the last meeting in Houston.
Lady Tigers Start 8-0
Memphis opened the season with identical 3-1 victories over LSU and UALR at Mike Rose Soccer Complex. The Lady Tigers hit the road for a three-game road trip and earned three shutout victories. A fourth-straight shutout against rival Ole Miss put Memphis a 6-0 and a convincing 6-2 victory over Charlotte put the Lady Tigers at 7-0. Memphis would finish the non-conference slate with a 2-0 shutout of Vanderbilt to improve to 8-0-0.
The 8-0-0 start to the regular season is the best start in program history and the eight-game win streak is the longest in program history. The U of M is now chasing the longest unbeaten streak in program history of 11, set in 2007 and 2010. The 2007 squad had a 10-0-1 run while last season saw the Lady Tigers go 8-0-3 over 11 games.
Player of the Week
Elise Kuhar-Pitters collected C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season on Monday. She had four saves in Memphis’ 2-0 victory at Vanderbilt and collected her fifth clean sheet of 2011.
The sign of a good team is its play on the road and the Lady Tigers have had some great success playing away from the Bluff City. In the last four plus seasons, Memphis is 29-6-3 in road games. The Lady Tigers are 14-3-3 in conference road games since the 2007 season.
The U of M may be sad to see the calendar flip past August. In 16 seasons, Memphis is 18-5-1 all-time in the month of August and is unbeaten in the last 16 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 57-5.
With all the success in August in the past several seasons, what has the U of M done in the month of September? In the last four seasons, including four games this season, Memphis is 23-11-0 in the month of September. Last season, Memphis was 4-3 in September.
In the past six matches, Memphis has held opponents to just 16 shots on goal and recorded five shutouts. In the last three seasons, Memphis has 29 shutouts and has back-to-back shutouts 10 times. The four-straight shutout streak earlier this season was the first four-game shutout streak and the 441:25 scoreless streak by opponents was the longest streak in program history. Goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters carries a program-best 527:25 scoreless streak into conference play.
Thus far, Memphis has scored 22 goals in eight matches, but more importantly 11 different players have scored those 22 goals. Through the end of non-conference play, seven different players have two or more goals. The Lady Tigers have 17 assists on the 22 goals and 10 different players have recorded assists. Seven different players have attempted 10 or more shots while 10 players have five or more shots. The offense ranks 18th in the NCAA statistical release, averaging 2.75 goals per game.
Not only is Memphis getting points from several different players, but the Lady Tigers are on a consistent streak of scoring two or more goals. The Lady Tigers have scored two or more goals in the last five matches, just the fourth time in program history a team has accomplished that feat. It’s the first such streak since the 2008 squad did it in eight-straight matches.
Three...Is The Magic Number
When scoring three or more goals in a match, the U of M carries an 81-6-1 record all-time. Under Head Coach Brooks Monaghan, Memphis is 60-3-1. In the past four seasons in which Memphis has four-straight championships, the record when scoring three or more goals is 26-0-1.
Record Book Rewrite
Redshirt-senior goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters began her fifth season in net for the Lady Tigers on the cusp of breaking multiple goalkeeping records. Just seven matches into the season, Kuhar-Pitters owns three of the five goalkeeping records at the U of M. With her third-straight shutout at Western Kentucky on Sept. 4, Kuhar-Pitters broke Isabel Birones’ record for shutouts and victories in a career. Kuhar-Pitters has 28 career shutouts and 43 victories and program-best 0.86 goals-against average. Kuhar-Pitters is also in the top-five in saves and minutes played.
Defense Wins Championships
Since the 2007 season, the Lady Tiger defense has helped the U of M to a 67-4-5 record when opponents score one or fewer goals. In that same span, Memphis has 49 shutouts. This season, the Memphis defense has allowed just 22 shots on goal. By comparison, opponents have 63 total shots against the U of M this season, but Memphis has 63 shots on goal in eight matches. Elise Kuhar-Pitters ranks fifth nationally with a 0.26 goals-against average. As a team, Memphis ranks 15th in the nation with a 0.50 GAA.
Best Offense Is A Good Defense
As the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense, which has certainly been a case for the U of M this season. Among 13 players that have played in the back this season, seven players have accounted for 15 of Memphis’ 61 points. Five goals and five assists have been posted by defensive players on the year.
Get The Show On The Road
Last Thursday’s match at Vanderbilt began a five-game road swing for the Lady Tigers. The five-game road trip is the longest since the 2002 season in which the U of M played seven-straight matches on the road. In 14 road trips that lasted three or more games, Memphis has compiled a record of 23-22-3 (4-0 in 2011). Scoring is very close in the road trip matches at 76-75 in favor of Memphis, but the U of M has equaled or bettered their opponent scoring in the last seven road trips. Memphis went 3-0 on its first road trip of 2011, posting three shutouts.
Memphis finished the non-conference slate with a perfect 8-0 record, including five shutouts. The Lady Tigers allowed just four goals in the eight matches, the fewest goals scored by non-conference opponents in the 16-year history of the program.
On A Roll
Already on a program-best 8-0 start to the season, the 2011 squad will look to extend a winning streak to nine games for the first time in program history. Last season, Memphis put together four, three-game win streaks. Since head coach Brooks Monaghan took over the program in 2000, Memphis has 35 win streaks of two or more games. Currently, the U of M is riding the first eight-game win streak in program history.
Head Coach Brooks Monaghan
Since taking over the program in 2000, head coach Brooks Monaghan has compiled a record of 133-85-14 in 11 seasons. Monaghan has helped the program claim seven, 11-plus win seasons during his tenure. Monaghan has guided the Lady Tigers to an impressive 94-33-9 (.724) record since 2004. Just in the last four seasons, Memphis is 71-20-6 (.763).
The Final Countdown
Memphis has allowed four goals this season, all of which have come in the second half. Looking closer at the box score, all four goals have come in the final 20 minutes of the half. The Lady Tigers have scored six goals in the final 20 minutes this season, with two key goals coming in the 3-0 victory over rival Ole Miss.
In The Polls
Memphis has climbed to a program-best 8th in the national polls released this week. NSCAA ranks the Lady Tigers 9th and Soccer America ranks the U of M 8th. The Lady Tigers are ranked 23rd in CollegeSoccer360’s composite rankings and 25th in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Tournament 64. Memphis is ranked 14th in Soccer Times top-25.
New Kids On The Block
Of the 31 players on the 2011 roster, 15 will or have played in a collegiate game for the first time this season. With the exception of Kelley Gravlin, a redshirt-freshman, 14 newcomers join the Lady Tigers for the 2011 campaign. Overall, 11 freshmen have seen minutes in the eight matches this season with Gravlin, Kaitlyn Atkins, Natalia Gomez-Junco, Kylie Davis, Olivia Borkenstein and Carly Cassady earning a start this season.
Christabel Oduro leads the team with four goals this season, bettering her goal total from last season (3). Rasheeda Ansari has three goals on the year giving the sophomore class six goals on the season. Of the seven goals scored by sophomores, four are game-winners.
Any Given Sunday
Sunday’s have been a day of success for the Lady Tigers in the last four seasons as ‘Any Given Sunday’ normally results in a Memphis victory. Since the 2006 season, the U of M is 34-10-3 in matches played on a Sunday. Since the 2009 season, Memphis is 19-2-1 on Sunday’s. In that same span, the U of M has outscored opponents 53-11 on Sunday’s with 13 shutouts.
Courtesy of research done by CollegeSoccer360.com, the Lady Tigers senior class is ranked 14th in the nation with 54 wins in their time at the U of M. In the three-plus seasons for the 2011 class, Memphis has posted records of 15-5-2, 16-7-0, 15-4-3 and a 8-0-0 record this season.
Freshmen have combined to score 25 of Memphis’ 61 points this season. Kelley Gravlin leads the cast of freshmen with seven points while Natalia Gomez-Junco and Kaitlyn Atkins have six points on the season.
Punch The Time Card
Senior Lizzy Simonin is the only Memphis player to play the full 720 minutes this season. Seven other players have played 500 or more minutes this season, all in the midfield or defense.
Memphis continues the season-long five-game road trip with matches at Marshall and East Carolina. The Lady Tigers return to Mike Rose Soccer Complex on Oct. 7.