The University of Memphis men’s soccer team concluded their spring season this past weekend as they begin preparing for the fall season. The team will add 12 players and new goals for the 2017 season.
Head coach Richard Mulrooney plans to improve the team’s defense from last season. He wants his players to defend better as a team in order to apply pressure on their opponents.
“The biggest change I believe will be in our defensive posture and how we defend as a group all the way from the forwards up top all the way back to our backline,” Mulroney said. “We were very inconsistent with that this last fall as well as this spring, but it is a necessity that we defend as a unit with a pressure that will make the other team uncomfortable when they are on the ball.”
In addition to modifying the defensive the style of play, Mulrooney is bolstering the defensive personal, bringing in five new defenders.
“I feel the group we have coming in next fall is one of the more special groups we have recruited as a staff since we have been here,” Mulrooney said.
The Tigers participated in five pre-season spring matches, adding different playing styles in order to improve for the upcoming fall season.
“In the spring we have implemented some pressure situations where we press the ball more as a team,” sophomore midfielder Jackson Morse said. “As a defense we approach the ball instead of the ball handler approaching us. If one (defender) is weak, then so is the line. So we are working towards that to be a strong team and produce wins next semester.”
Morse returns for his sophomore season and is looking to improve on a solid freshman season. He was named to the AAC All-Rookie squad, scoring six goals for the Tigers last season.
Morse was also named HERO Sports National Player of the Week and AAC Offensive Player of the Week after scoring two goals in a 2-0 win against No. 25 UConn.
Senior transfer, Jordan Parron, and junior transfer, Ian Story, will add experience to the defensive back four. Sophomore Ben Roberts also transferred to Memphis. The three players joined the Tigers during the semester break and have participated with the team during the spring season.
The Tigers added nine freshmen for the upcoming season — four midfielders, two forwards, two defenders and one goalkeeper. The new team members are from all across the United States, and many of them have played together at the junior level.
“The new guys coming in is good for us – older guys bring experience at center back while the other young guys bring a good mix for competition,” sophomore midfielder Adam Bruce said.
The Tigers are graduating three seniors this spring, but they retain the majority of the roster from the 2016 season, including many of the team’s regular starters.
Redshirt-senior Jake Leeker will also return for the 2017 fall season. Leeker started all 17 games as the goalkeeper for the Tigers in 2016. Leeker was named AAC Goalkeeper of the week after the win against UConn last season.
The team will return its best players and have quality recruits joining them, and they hope to improve upon last year’s performance.
“This season we have guys that are really dedicated, and they are here to be a D-1 athlete, compete and win,” junior midfielder Mason Morise said.
The full Fall 2017 season schedule has not been released yet, but the Tigers’ first match is set for August 25.
Jackson Morse dribbles the ball while looking for open teammates. Morse earned the honor of being selected to the AAC All-Rookie team last season.