Nov. 1, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Hosting the 2011 Conference USA Championship for the first time, No. 4/6 Memphis (18-0-1) will open tournament play at 8 p.m. Wednesday against Tulsa (10-7-3) at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex.
Memphis capped and undefeated season with a 2-0 victory at UAB on Thursday. The Lady Tigers finished the regular season 18-0-1 and posted a 10-0-1 record in league play.
The U of M has scored 48 goals this season coming from 11 different players. The 48 goals in the season are the most since the 2007 season when the squad had 56 goals.
Along with a single-season school record 13 clean sheets by Elise Kuhar-Pitters, the Lady Tiger defense has held opponents to eight or fewer shot on goal attempts in every match this season and just 7.8 shots per game. Memphis has allowed nine goals in 19 matches this season, the fewest in program history.
NCAA Division I Best
With the completion of the regular season, Memphis has the best winning percentage in the nation with the 18-0-1 record, a .974 winning percentage. The Lady Tigers became the 15th different program since 2001 to finish a regular season unbeaten. Oklahoma State also completed this season unbeaten and two other programs have undefeated records currently.
Memphis clinched at least a share of the C-USA Regular Season Championship with a 3-0 victory at Southern Miss on Oct. 21. A 3-0 victory at UCF on Oct. 23 earned Memphis its third regular season crown in the last five seasons and a fifth-straight championship overall. The Lady Tigers have won the last four C-USA Championships and were regular season champs in 2007 and 2008.
Memphis has won 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. North Carolina holds the all-time record for consecutive tournament championships with 15 from 1987-2003. William & Mary (8, 1996-03), Notre Dame (7, 1995-2001), Florida (6, 1996-2001), North Carolina (5, 2005-2009) and Loyola (5, 2000-2004) hold longer streaks than Memphis and seven other programs that have four-straight tournament titles.
At the U of M, the Lady Tigers four-straight championship is a first by a women's program and the fifth for all sports. Men's gymnastics garnered four-straight Missouri Valley Conference titles from 1966-69 and men's track and field earned four-straight TIAC outdoor crowns from 1957-60. Men's tennis won four-straight Metro Conference titles from 1976-79 and men's basketball strung together four-straight C-USA titles from 2006-2009.
Luck of the Host?
The U of M hosts the C-USA Tournament for the first time this week and host institiutions have a record of 13-11 as 13 of the 16 tournaments have been hosted on campus sites. The lone team to win the C-USA on its home field was Rice in the 2005 season and just four host institutions have advanced to the tournament final.
Memphis has won four-straight conference tournaments, but more impressive is the results. In nine of the 11 victories en route to the championship, Memphis has shutout its opponent. The Lady Tigers have outscored the opposition 29-3 in the tournament matches. The U of M is 14-7 all-time in the C-USA Tournament.
Lizzy Simonin was tabbed the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday marking the third occasion she has garnered the weekly accolade this season. With Simonin's selection, Memphis earned a ninth weekly honor, the most by any C-USA team in the leagues history.
Tulsa enters the C-USA Women's Soccer Championship with a 10-7-3 record. Tulsa finished tied for sixth in C-USA with a 4-5-2 record, but by tiebreakers received the No. 8 seed. Claire Nicholson and Lindsay Kirch lead the Golden Hurricane with five goals each on the year. Jordan O'Brien has a team-high six assists and Tulsa has benefited from 14 different players scoring goals. Katie Bykowski has seen the bulk of the minutes in net for Tulsa. Bykowski has a 1.30 goals-against average on the season and Tulsa collected a program record 11 shutouts during the season.
Inside The Series
Memphis and Tulsa will clash for the eighth time on Wednesday. The Lady Tigers have won five of the last six meetings while the other game was a 1-1 draw at Tulsa last season. Memphis won the regular season meeting 4-0 and Wednesday's meeting marks the first meeting between the two sides in C-USA Tournament play.
In C-USA play this season, Memphis has held opponents to just 40 shots on goal and five goals. In those 11 matches, Memphis has registered eight clean sheets. Since the 2008 season, Memphis has 46 shutouts and has back-to-back shutouts 18 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 posted a program-best 580:36 scoreless streak that was ended at Houston on Sept. 25.
Thus far, Memphis has scored 48 goals in 19 matches, but more importantly 11 different players have scored those 48 goals. Eight different players have three or more goals on the year. The Lady Tigers have 35 assists on the 48 goals and 13 different players have recorded assists with six players having three or more assists to their credit. In C-USA play, nine players have goals and seven have two or more goals.
Defense Wins Championships
Since the 2007 season, the Lady Tiger defense has helped the U of M to a 77-4-5 record when opponents score one or fewer goals. In that same span, Memphis has 57 shutouts. This season, the Memphis defense has allowed just 62 shots on goal. By comparison, opponents have 148 total shots against the U of M this season, but Memphis has 154 shots on goal in 19 matches.
Record Book Rewrite
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 grabbed 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 36 career shutouts and 53 victories and program-best 0.78 goals-against average. Kuhar-Pitters is also tops in minutes played and fourth in saves. With 36 career shutouts, Elise Kuhar-Pitters needs just two more clean sheets to tie for second in the NCAA Division 1 Women's Soccer record book. Kuhar-Pitters would need eight shutouts to tie for first.
Head Coach Brooks Monaghan
Since taking over the program in 2000, head coach Brooks Monaghan has compiled a record of 143-85-15 in 11 seasons. Monaghan has helped the program claim eight, 11-plus win seasons during his tenure. Monaghan has guided the Lady Tigers to an impressive 104-33-10 (.741) record since 2004. Just in the last four seasons, Memphis is 81-20-7 (.782).
The Final Countdown
Memphis has allowed nine goals this season, six of which have come in the second half. Looking closer at the box score, five of the nine goals have come in the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Lady Tigers have scored 11 goals in the final 20 minutes this season, with two key goals coming in the 3-0 victory over rival Ole Miss.
Time Is On Our Side
Heading into tournament play, one impressive stat stands out as Memphis has trailed for only 45:06. In 1730:00 minutes, the Tigers have trailed just 2.65 percent of game action.
Christabel Oduro leads the team with 11 goals this season, bettering her goal total from last season (3). Rasheeda Ansari has five goals on the year giving the sophomore class 16 goals on the season. Of the 16 goals scored by sophomores, eight are game-winners. When Oduro scores, Memphis is 11-0-2 and the Lady Tigers are a perfect 9-0-0 when Ansari finds the back of the net.
New Kids On The Block
Freshmen have combined to score 49 of Memphis' 131 points this season. Natalia Gomez-Junco leads the cast with seven goals on the season. Kelley Gravlin has four goals and four assists as does Kaitlyn Atkins. Kylie Davis has chipped in with two goals and four assists and Carly Cassady has added a goal. Katie Donahue also was credited with an assist this season.
Courtesy of research done by CollegeSoccer360.com, the Lady Tigers senior class is ranked 9th in the nation with 64 wins in their time at the U of M. The 2011 senior class set the program record for the most wins by any class with the 2-0 win at UAB on Oct. 27.
Program Secures 175th Win
Now in his 12th season as head coach, Brooks Monaghan as helped the program reach the 175 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 eight seasons, including 2011. The Lady Tigers currently have an all-time record of 177-144-18.
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, six players have accounted for 32 of Memphis' 131 points. Nine goals and 13 assists have been posted by defensive players on the year. Lizzy Simonin has scored five times this season and when the former forward finds the back of the net, Memphis is 18-1-2.
Memphis has scored 48 goals this season, but looking closely at the time of goals, late in games has been kind to the Lady Tigers. The U of M has scored 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of play, the most among the six segments of 15 minute increments. Memphis has five goals from the 1st to 15th minutes, six goals from 15th to 30th minutes, six goals from 30th to 45th minutes, 10 goals from the 45th to 60th minute and 10 goals from 60th to 75th minute.
Home Field Advantage
With an unbalanced schedule this season that had Memphis playing seven road conference matches, the Lady Tigers needed to continue the recent success on the home field. Since 2004, Memphis is 53-17-5 at Mike Rose Soccer Complex. Under head coach Brooks Monaghan, Memphis has a 73-32-7 mark on the home turf.