The University of Memphis men’s soccer team earned their first win of the season by beating Missouri Time 2-1. Sunday’s win improved the Tigers to 1-3-2 this season.
The Tigers started the season on a poor note with a 0-3-1 record through their first four matches. They started the year with a draw on the road before dropping three straight matches. This past weekend, the team made improvements with a tie against the University of Missouri at Kansas City and the win verses Missouri State.
Through six matches, Memphis has struggled in the first half. Their opponents have scored totaled 24 shots and scored five goals in the first half of play this season. The Tigers have not scored in the first half of a match this season.
“When teams score early they gain confidence so it has been an uphill battle in some matches,” Ben Roberts, sophomore center-half, said. “Our back four is strong and gaining confidence together, so going forward our confidence will lead to less early goals.”
The Tigers have some offensive success in the second half of matches. All three goals have come late in the second half of matches. The earliest goal of the season came in the 82nd minute. The offense finds its fluidity in the second half generating 38 shots, besting their first half shot tally by 17, but goals are still elusive.
Memphis started the season with a draw at Belmont thanks to a career-high nine saves from redshirt senior goalkeeper Jake Leeker. The offense could not capitalize on 14 shots, only putting four on target.
The Tigers lost 0-3 to UAB in the second match of the year. The teams took nine shots each, but the Blazers put seven on target to Memphis’ three. After the loss, head coach Richard Mulrooney made offensive adjustments for the match against Kentucky.
Memphis was tied with Kentucky for most of the match, but a red card that against defender Roberts resulted in a converted penalty kick for the Wildcats. That “crucial error” that resulted in a 62nd minute goal was the difference in the 0-1 loss.
The team dropped their third straight with a 0-2 loss to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Memphis outshot the Cougars 13-8 and put more shots on goal, 7-4. But SIU-Edwards’ goalkeeper saved seven goals to Memphis’ two.
The Tigers were down 0-1 against UMKC and were nearing a fourth consecutive loss, but David Zalzman hit the back of the net with an equalizing goal in the 89th minute. It was his third shot of the match and the first goal of his collegiate career.
Then, Memphis traveled to Springfield where they earned their first win of the season. Missouri State took a 1-0 lead into the half, but two goals in the final 10 minutes of the match by Luke Biasi and Charles Blankenship gave the Tigers the 2-1 win.
“I told the guys at halftime that if we stick to the same game plan then we will come out of this match with a win,” Mulrooney said. “The guys stayed with it and were motivated. Luke (Biasi) scored a cracker of a goal to draw level, and we had the momentum to get one more goal and get the win.”
The Tigers are three matches into a five-match road trip and begin conference play Saturday at Cincinnati.
“We have gained confidence, we are coming together as a team and we are prepared for conference play,” sophomore midfielder Jackson Morse said.
Luke Biasi chases down the Belmont player with the ball. Biasi’s assist and goal against Missouri State earned him AAC Rookie of the Week.