Head Coach Richard Mulrooney’s squad ended the previous weekend with a 2-2 record after a 2-1 win against the Milwaukee Panthers, but they dropped a close 1-0 defeat against the Mercer Bears in the UAB Tournament.
Sam Ashton was the highlight of the road trip as the senior forward was recognized in the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll for his game winning penalty kick conversion against the Panthers. It was Ashton’s first weekly award in his Memphis Tigers career. The team now has five different players recognized by the AAC in their weekly accolades after just two weeks into the season.
Youth and veteran play were key in a 2-1 win for the Tigers at the start of their road trip.
Freshman Jovan Prado netted the first goal for Memphis in the 37th minute after sophomore Gurman Sangha crossed an accurate pass into the box as Prado placed the ball into the bottom left corner. Ashton later scored the second of the night for the Tigers 10 minutes after the Panthers equalized midway through the second half. He made a run into the 18-yard box and was fouled, and the senior shortly converted the penalty kick in comfortable fashion. The goal scorers each have two goals so far in the season.
The Memphis defense provided a solid performance as they limited Milwaukee to just four shots while their only shot on target lobbed over the Tigers goalkeeper in the 64th minute. The Jaguars weren’t able to penetrate the Memphis backline as they did not record a single shot in the first 45 minutes.
An early mistake was costly for the Tigers as they allowed a goal in just two minutes and 31 seconds after the first whistle. Despite outshooting the Bears 13 to seven in the entire match, Memphis was only able to target two of those shots on target. Mercer improved to a 4-0 record after the close win.
The best opportunity to equalize came between minutes 60-65 where the Tigers had five shots deriving from two corner kicks, but the Bears’ defense would not stifle. Freshman midfielder, Brendan Dexter, was nearly the savior for the visiting team as he almost let one past the Mercer goalkeeper but luck wasn’t on his side. It was Dexter’s first career start in his young Tigers’ career.
Forward Chris Mikus also flashed at times during the contest with a team-high three shots, and captain Ben Roberts and Dexter were able to record a pair each. Sophomore goalkeeper Parker Lackland also tallied three saves despite allowing the opening goal.
Mulrooney’s side now continues their road journey with a trip Cincinnati, Ohio to face No. 10/11, and then they travel to in-state rival Belmont to close out the week. The Xavier Musketeers will prove to be the biggest challenge so far for the Tigers as they are undefeated (3-0-1), and are fresh off a 2-2 overtime tie against the No. 9/17 Kentucky Wildcats.
Belmont stands with a 0-3-1 record searching for their first win of the year. The Bears are also looking for revenge after Memphis won 3-0 last year in Memphis. Kick-off against Xavier is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.