Lady Tigers Ready to Begin Defense of Back-to-Back C-USA Titles
Sept. 23, 2009
Memphis, Tenn. -
The two-time defending Conference USA champions begin conference play Friday as the University of Memphis women's soccer team travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., to face the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss. Kick-off of Friday's match is scheduled for 4 pm.
"Our goal is to three-peat and do it again," head coach Brooks Monaghan said. "I think we have the pieces of the puzzle to do that, but it won't be easy. Our conference gets stronger every year, and I can honestly say there are eight teams this year that I think have a chance to win the conference."
Southern Miss (4-2-0) prepares to face Memphis after defeating Mississippi Valley State 4-0 on Sept. 20th to close out the non-conference schedule. The Golden Eagles are led in scoring by Daniela Picado who has tallied four goals and an assist this season. Southern Miss has out-shot their opponents 100-55 and holds a 52-22 shots on goal advantage.
Memphis (5-3-0) was dealt a deflating loss at the hands of Saint Louis on Friday Sept. 18th but the Lady Tigers bounced back on Sunday Sept. 20th with a dominating 4-0 victory over Evansville. The Lady Tigers recorded 50 shots in the match, breaking the school record for shots in a game. The Lady Tigers have out-shot their opponents 153-55 and holds a 72-23 shots on goal advantage.
The Lady Tigers will open conference play without two key players. Senior captain Laura Laufenberg and junior forward Melissa Smith are both sidelined for the remainder of the 2009 season. Lady Tiger fans can watch an interview with senior midfielder Tori Dalton and junior defender Brittany Hance on the all-acces page of the Memphis Tigers. Monaghan is looking for leadership from the rest of the team now that Laufenberg and Smith are out for the season.
"We need to step up in several different areas now and one of those is leadership because Laufenberg was the leader on and off the field," Monaghan said. "We need the team to come together and step up. Hopefully, somebody will arise as the leader on the team. As a player, Laufenberg is irreplaceable. It forces us to play somebody that is not used to playing that position. We put Julia Ignacio in that position last weekend and she did a great job. We feel that (Ignacio) can get it done."
Sophomore defender Tara Telford and sophomore forward Lizzy Simonin have both missed games recently due to injury but are expected to return this weekend. Simonin was hurt in the 1-0 loss against Ole Miss on Sept. 4th while Telford was hurt in the Lady Tigers 2-1 over Alabama on Sept. 13th.
"Tara looks like she is going to be good to go this weekend," Monaghan said. "We are happy about that. We miss her in the back line. What our back line has been able to do with her in it, is amazing and we need her back. There is a slim chance that Simonin will return this weekend but by next weekend she should definitely be back. Not having Laufenberg, Smith, Telford, or Simonin really sets us back but at the same time there is a reason why we have more than 11 players. This team has good depth and it's time that the players that have to step into these roles really step it up and get the job done."
Monaghan will have a chance for his 100th win Friday night after capturing win 99 Sept. 20th. Monaghan has already secured his place as the winningest coach in program history.
The Lady Tigers will travel to Orlando, Fla., to face UCF on Sunday Sept. 27th with kick-off set for 12 pm. CBS College Sports will be airing the match on tape delay, Tuesday Sept. 29th at 6 pm.