Tigers hone in on Huskies
Tigers’ senior midfielder-defender Andreas Guentner, left, battles for a loose ball in a recent match against the College of Charleston. Courtesy of Memphis Athletics Communications
With the Conference USA schedule right around the corner, the University of Memphis men's soccer team is playing games against tough, non-conference opponents in preparation.
Friday afternoon, the team will travel to Birmingham, Ala., to face off against the University of Washington Huskies (3-1-1) in its first of two games this weekend. Washington, No. 20 in the latest polls, is coming off a 1-0 loss to the University of Connecticut Huskies.
"[The Washington Huskies] are very dangerous on set plays," U of M head coach Richie Grant said. "I think they've scored seven goals this year on set plays. They're an athletic team and very organized. They just break very well and very quickly."
The Huskies have outscored opponents this season 61-54 and are outshooting teams 12.2 to 10.8 per game. Washington is led by senior Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, who has a team-high four goals on the season and an astronomical .714 shots on goal percentage.
The Tigers also face a stingy defense led by goalkeeper Spencer Richey, who boasts a .75 goals-against average and has made 16 saves on the season. Grant said this is one of those games that will prime the Tigers for the C-USA schedule.
"I feel like every game we are playing right now has the ability to completely change the season for us," Grant said. "It's not that it's not going well, but we're playing Wisconsin, Furman, Washington and big-time opponents. When you have the opportunity to pick up a win against one of those teams, it can change the course of the season."
Memphis is outshooting foes 14.0 to 10.5 shots per game, but has had trouble finishing those chances, averaging 1.75 goals per game compared to opponents' 2.25 goals per game. Grant said it is imperative that his team sprints out of the gate.
"We've got off to a quick start in almost every game," Grant said. "I think it's vital. They're a team that sits in, so it can be quite a challenge to break them down."
Leading the Tiger offensive attack is junior forward Mark Sherrod with two goals on 17 shots, and sophomore defender Chandler Gagnon, who has three goals on three attempts.
"We want to keep working on finishing our opportunities," Grant said. "We just want more matches to continue to improve and work to where we need to be."
Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. Friday. The Tigers also face off against Fairleigh Dickinson University on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. to conclude the weekend road trip.
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