The University of Memphis womenâ€™s soccer team came into the season as the preseason favorites to win the American Athletic Conference, for the first time since 2012.Â After an overtime victory over the University of Alabama at Birmingham Sunday, the 24th ranked Tigers have gotten off to a 3-0 start.
Memphis outscored their opponents 8-1 in the first three matches. They won 3-0 against Samford University and the Univeristy of Arkansas at Little Rock and 2-1 versus UAB. Marie Levassuer scored the match-winning goal with less than a minute remaining the double overtime match against UAB.
Â The Tigers will travel to Nashville for matches against Rice University and Indiana University Friday and Sunday. The Owls are 1-3 on the season, and the Hoosiers are 2-2 with loses to University of Louisville and No. 13 Clemson University.
Head coach Brooks Monaghan is happy with the start to the season and looks to continue that this weekend.
â€œWeâ€™re looking forward to just keeping the streak going,â€ Monaghan said. â€œWeâ€™re clicking and want to keep up the great effort weâ€™ve been playing with.â€
Junior Captain Olivia Gauthier, who has two assists this season, is not surprised by the Tigers quick start. She said that experience is a key reason for the teamâ€™s success.
â€œWe have a lot of returners who get a lot of minutes so we're very used to playing with eachÂ other,â€ Gauthier said. â€œI think every returner is a little more confident right now than this time last year.â€
Jessica Lisi was one of three tiger players named to the preseason All-Conference Team, tying Southern Methodist University for the most on a team.Â She finished her freshman campaign with six goals and a program record nine assists that landed her a spot on the All-Conference Second Team. This year, Lisi wanted to come into this season with a â€œstronger presenceâ€ than a year ago.
â€œI want to be a playmaker for my team and set up goals,â€ Lisi said. â€œI also want to contribute in scoring more goals than I did last year.â€
Before the season began, Lisi said she was initially nervous because of her position change. She had only played a few matches as an attacking midfielder and did not want to mess up. But now her confidence is higher after a solid season last year and collecting a goal and an assist within the first three matches of this season.
Lisi is one of many players that he feels has looked more comfortable on the field as compared to a year ago, Monaghan said.
â€œAs a group we have matured a bunch,â€ Monaghan said. â€œI think are confidence level is high right now. We are feeling good about ourselves.â€
Monaghan does not see the preseason expectations negatively affecting his group. After ending last season 14-5-1 (8-1 AAC) and an NCAA Tournament appearance, he felt his team should expect more from themselves.
â€œThere was no added pressure for us because we place even higher expectations on ourselves,â€ Monaghan said. â€œBefore all the preseason rankings, we expected to win our conference and make a deep tournament run this year, especially with the talent we have on our team. We know what we expect out of ourselves.â€
Lisi agreed with her coachâ€™s assessment, adding that the teamâ€™s chemistry level is higher than a season ago.
â€œThe environment we all create for one another makes us all better; always competitive yet encouraging,â€ Lisi said. â€œWe have a great bunch of girls who put their all into everything that they do and I think our team has gelled fairly quick.â€
Catherine Levasseur examines the field as she dibbles the ball. Levasseur has recorded a goal and an assist during the first three games.Â