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Memphis soccer notebook: Tigers perfect on both fronts

<p>Men’s soccer freshman Chandler Klemm is tied for the team lead with three assists on the season.&nbsp;</p>
Men’s soccer freshman Chandler Klemm is tied for the team lead with three assists on the season. 

With both University of Memphis soccer teams playing each weekend it can be difficult to keep up with all of the action. We’ve come up with a weekly notebook that will fill you in on all you need to know every week throughout the season.

Week in Review

The Memphis soccer teams had their best week of the season this week, combining to go 4-0 overall with three wins over American Athletic Conference opponents.

The men’s team started the week with a 0-5-2 overall record, but was able to notch their first two victories of the season in a non-conference clash against Central Arkansas (1-9-0) and conference road match at UConn (3-3-3, 0-2-0 AAC). The Tigers were powered to their 3-1 victory over Central Arkansas by a hat trick from junior Raul Gonzalez, who scored his second, third and fourth goals of the season in the win.

“Some people say I’m very very unselfish and I did have three goals, but I couldn’t have had three goals without my teammates,” Gonzalez said. “It was the teamwork and I was able to put it in. Hopefully other people can too, but I was able to help the team out and finish with three goals.”

Sophomore Chandler Klemm assisted on two of Gonzalez’s goals, and the other was scored on a penalty.

Later in the week, the Tigers had to fight back to earn a 1-0 win at UConn. The Huskies attacked the Memphis net early in the match, outshooting the Tigers 6-1 in the first half. Memphis was able to withstand the early attack, however, and grab the victory in the second overtime period when freshman Mason Morise connected with Chandler Klemm who fired the ball into the net in the 106th minute. The win makes Memphis 2-5-2 overall and 1-0-1 against AAC foes.

On the women’s side, the Lady Tigers improved to 7-3-2 overall and 2-0-1 in conference play with a 2-1 win over Houston (4-8-0, 0-4-0 AAC) and a 2-0 victory vs. SMU (4-6-3, 1-2-1 AAC). Memphis played lockdown defense in both games, holding Houston to four total shots and SMU to just one.

Tigers off to hot start in AAC play

American Athletic Conference play kicked off about two weeks ago for both Tiger teams, and both squads have been playing their best soccer of the season during the important games.

The Lady Tigers are currently on a four-game unbeaten streak, tied for their longest of the season, and have taken down Gonzaga, Houston and SMU on their way to three consecutive victories. Memphis has been dominant in the stretch, outshooting the opponent in every game and allowing only one goal in the four matches.

“The defense for the most part is better, but I just think (the defenders) are in a good place and they trust the players in front of them,” coach Brooks Monaghan said. “(The defense) has just been sharp, and hopefully that will continue. We need it to continue.”

Not only are the Lady Tigers keeping shots out of goal, but they’re preventing opponents from even getting the shots off in the first place. Memphis has outshot opponents by a margin of 46-10 in the last three games, and outscored opponents 5-1.

Men’s soccer has been on an impressive stretch of their own, going unbeaten in three straight games after starting the season 0-5-1. In those first six games of the season the Tigers scored only one goal. In the last three games they’ve scored six.

Perhaps the biggest cause for the goal-scoring eruption has been the play of some of the team’s younger players. Freshman Mason Morise has been involved in setting up goals all season long, but in the last few games he’s been joined by sophomore Chandler Klemm. Klemm has either scored or assisted on three of the Tigers’ last four goals, and he netted the winner in the 106th minute at UConn on Saturday.

“It’s very exciting,” coach Richard Mulrooney said on the play of the team’s young players. “Obviously you’re hoping that these minutes that they get this year will turn into experience and more composure next year, but that’s next year, and this year I’m happy with the group that I’ve got.”

Tough schedule pays off for men’s soccer

The poor start to the season for the men’s soccer team was rough in the short-term, but it’s starting to pay dividends now that conference play is underway. Much of the 0-5-1 start was due to the incredibly difficult schedule in which the team played four straight road games, all against 2014 NCAA Tournament teams, three of which were ranked in the top 25 when playing the Tigers.

“Yes, I would rather have not been 0-5-2, but at the same time I think we learned from it, and I think we learned how to stop conceding goals, and how to play against set plays, and we obviously learned how to finish the ball with more quality now,” Mulrooney said.

Memphis has games coming up against two of the best teams in the American Athletic Conference in SMU and Temple, and the team is better prepared for those opponents since they’ve already played multiple top 25 level teams.

Up Next

Conference play continues this week, and both the men’s and the women’s teams have games against some of the elite teams in the AAC. The Lady Tigers travel to Florida for a two-game road trip with contests against UCF (6-5-1, 1-3-0 AAC) Thursday and USF (10-2-1, 3-1-0 AAC) Sunday.

The matchup with USF is a difficult one that’s critical in the race for the regular season championship, but the Lady Tigers will have to get through the UCF Knights first, which may be a tougher task than the team’s 1-3 conference record suggests.

“We haven’t even looked at USF, to be honest,” Monaghan said. “It’s one game at a time for us and our focus is all on UCF. UCF, they’ve dropped a couple of matches, but they’re a very good team. We’ve watched them play and they’ve had some very good results. They just came off a couple losses, so they’re going to be in that mode of do or die, and that’s tough to play against.”

While the Lady Tigers prepare for two difficult games this week, the men’s team has two matches against two of the toughest teams in the conference. Memphis plays SMU (7-2-2, 2-0-0 AAC) at home Wednesday before heading to Philadelphia to take on Temple (7-2-2, 0-2-0 AAC) on Saturday. The Tigers enter the matches in their best form of the season, and the games should show whether or not the team has improved enough to compete with the best teams the conference has to offer.

Memphis will face SMU Wednesday night at Mike Rose Soccer Complex, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

Men’s soccer freshman Chandler Klemm is tied for the team lead with three assists on the season. 

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