#15 Memphis Women's Soccer 2012 Preview

Memphis Lady Tigers

Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #1 C-USA
Memphis Women's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Memphis Team Page


Memphis has continued their domination of Conference-USA. Heading into the NCAA Tournament last year, the Lady Tigers amassed a 21-0-1 record and had their fifth straight conference title in their pocket. But, at least eventually, the competition got a little tougher during the NCAA Tournament. After a lopsided 7-0 victory over Tennessee-Martin in the first round of the tournament, Memphis and their high powered offense failed to score a goal in a 2-0 home loss to Louisville.

2011 Record: 22-1-1, 10-0-1
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Brooks Monaghan

The Lady Tigers ranked seventh in the nation last year with 2.58 goals per game. Forwards Melissa Smith and Rasheeda Ansari and playmaking defender Lizzy Simonin are gone, but Memphis has plenty of returning scoring options. Christabel Oduro, a 5-3 junior, scored 16 goals and dished out seven assists in 2011. She may be the main weapon for the Lady Tigers, but even without Smith, Ansari and Simonin, this is a team loaded with scoring threats. Natalia Gomez-Junco is the most intriguing prospect. As a freshman she netted eight goals and proved to be fearless when it came to taking shots. Gomez-Junco only started ten games, so she should be in a for a big sophomore season assuming she sees her minutes increase quite a bit. Kaitlyn Atkins is another young striker who totaled five goals and five assists despite starting just seven games. Kylie Davis can play up front, but she will likely spend most of her time in the midfield. Yet, she is a scoring threat and just a sophomore who has her best games still ahead of her. Midfielder Kelley Gravlin had a fine freshman campaign, netting four goals and dishing out four assists. The scoring threats may be young, but this team is loaded with sophomores who received plenty of playing time as freshmen. They should be ready to take the next step and that is a scary thought for the rest of Conference USA.

Memphis had a great defense in 2011, barely allowing more than half a goal per game. Without Simonin and Lizzy Hildebrandt, the unit could take a step back. Averi Hallman, Carly Cassady, Christine Kline and Bailey Pembroke are a quality group of defenders. Hallman, Kline and Pembroke are all experienced seniors who can provide the leadership the unit needs to rebuild. The bigger concern will be in the box where keeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters is gone after starting all 24 games last season. She allowed just 11 goals in those 24 games and recorded an impressive 15 shutouts. And it is not like Kuhar-Pitters was able to just stand around and watch the Memphis offense score goals. She was tested and responded by having the 20th best save percentage in the nation. Without Kuhar-Pitters, Memphis must rely on three freshmen keepers to take her place. Both McCall Gardner and Becca Brown redshirted last season and have a bit of experience in the system. Christa Strickland is an incoming freshman and will compete for the job.

Final Projection:
The Tigers have a little tougher schedule, at least on paper, this season and that may prove to be beneficial in the long run. This is a team that has more than enough talent to return to NCAA Tournament, but Louisville threw them for a loop. With some tougher non-conference opposition, the Tigers will be better prepared in November. They may lose some of those games while the defense and new keeper are adjusting, but the offense can score enough goals to win one last Conference USA title before heading to the Big East.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Christabel Oduro, Junior, M/F, 16
Assists: Christabel Oduro, Junior, M/F, 7
Shots: Christabel Oduro, Junior, M/F, 67
Saves: None