Memphis men’s soccer wins fifth straight game, eyes home AAC Tournament game
It took some doing but the University of Memphis men’s soccer team found a way to get the win against USF on Friday night at the Billy Murphy Track & Soccer Complex. A pair of goals from Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos was enough for the Tigers to run out 2-1 winners over the Bulls. It was a tense, cagey affair that saw the Tigers go up 1-0 in the first half, give up an equalizer with just over 15 minutes to play in the game, and then find a winner with less than 10 ten minutes to play.
The Tigers got the season off to a pretty good start as they went unbeaten in their first six games. What then followed was a month-long rough patch that saw the Tigers lose three straight games, all in conference play. Two of those were on the road and one of those two road games was against a ranked opponent but still not a great way to start conference play. Since then however the Tigers have been flying high with five straight wins.
First was a 1-0 win on the road against #9 Missouri State. Then was their first conference win, 2-1 over Tulsa at home. They followed that up with a 3-1 road win over UAB, a 4-2 home win over Temple, and now a 2-1 home win against the Bulls of USF.
Coach Richard Mulrooney was quite glad to get the result.
“It’s three points. I think we’re on a five game win streak now. That’s probably the lowest that we’ve played. But I told the guys that good teams find a way to win when they don’t play the greatest. That’s a good team we just played. It’s gonna be sad if they don’t make the conference tournament.”
One thing Coach Mulrooney really liked was they way his team responded after conceding an equalizer with so little time left in the game, especially considering that they looked like they were running out of gas.
“Yeah, I mean Tyson threw a haymaker and knocked us down there and we got up. You know what I mean? It took us a little while to get it back and then to find a second goal when we really hadn’t been dangerous probably since our first goal, with a couple chances and here I’ll give my guys some credit. But in saying that, definitely not in the second half. So it just shows the guys response to adversity. We’ve done it a couple times this year.”
Frequently in sports, when it gets close to postseason time, it’s not necessarily who has the best record but who is getting hot at the right time. When asked if he thought his team was getting hot at the right time, Coach Mulrooney wouldn’t quite go that far.
“We could be. We’ve gotten hot within our conference. But we also know how quickly it can change. We’re at Charlotte and I don’t know what their result is but as I told the guys it’s about just showing up, enjoying the opportunity and playing our best. We didn’t do it tonight so we let ourselves down in that way but found a way. Let’s go into the next game, put a good performance together and get the win. But yes it’s nice to be getting a little warm.”
And should the Tigers win their regular season finale on the road against Charlotte, they would be in very good shape to host an AAC Tournament game at home. It’s something that Coach Mulrooney hopes will give his guys a little extra juice for that game.
“I mean it should. Knowing how spread out this conference is. I don’t know the numbers fully from all the games but a home game is a home game. And I know we dropped one earlier this year to FIU but now to be 3-1 at home, yeah there’s an advantage to it. In saying that, some of these trips aren’t just as simple as a bus trip to Tulsa or Dallas. A flight to USF, a flight to FAU, a flight to Charlotte again? I’d rather not and I know our AD doesn’t want it either because it eats our budget a little bit” he said with a chuckle.
“But at the end of the day, yeah obviously being at home would be important for this program but for this team even more so.”
Of the nine teams in the AAC in men’s soccer, Memphis currently sits fourth. They are three points behind Charlotte in 3rd and three points ahead of FAU in 5th. Any points in the regular season finale against Charlotte should result in a home conference tournament game for the Tigers.
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