Grogan delivers hat trick in exhibition win

Defense supplies shutout

August 19, 2006 · MT Media Relations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Holly Grogan picked up Saturday where she left off in 2005, putting on an offensive clinic to lead Middle Tennessee to a 3-0 win against visiting Murray State in exhibition action at Blue Raider Field.

Grogan scored six of her 10 goals during the final four regular-season games of 2005 on her way to first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors and then busted out with hat trick in her first action of 2006.

"I'm not going to lie, I set myself a target of two goals today and then I was able to get that bonus one," Grogan said. "I plan on having a strong season the entire season this year. I don't think I did what I needed to do until the end of the season last year and I want to be more consistent this year."

Middle Tennessee performed well in its only exhibition contest of the preseason as it dominated the visiting Racers from the outset. The Blue Raiders' generally strong defense was at it again, allowing just five shots and securing the shutout, while the offense was on the attack from the outset and finished with 21 shots.

Grogan made the most of her scoring opportunities as they were presented to help start 2006 on a positive note.

"Holly picked up where she left off last year," Middle Tennessee coach Aston Rhoden said. "She had some really good goals and she was determined. Her performance offensively was fantastic. We still need to get her to do a little more defensive work but if she can keep scoring goals like that we will take it."

The teams played three 30-minute periods and the Blue Raiders got on the board first in the 19th minute. After good work on the left side, newcomer Kim Farrant delivered a cross which ricocheted off a Racer defender and Grogan was the quickest to react. Her first shot hit the post and caromed across the goal but Grogan never gave up, chased across the goal and tapped the ball in at the far post.

"That was a nice ball from (Farrant)," Grogan said. "I had just talked to her about it a few seconds earlier and then she put it threw and it was really nice, but I hit the post and stole some of my thunder on that one."

The Blue Raiders went on top 2-0 in the 28th minute when Grogan received the ball with her back to the goal on the right side of the field, turned back inside the defender and fired an unstoppable left-footed shot to the far top corner.

The stellar forward completed the hat trick in the third period on a beautiful assist from Kaley Forrest, who lifted a perfectly-weighted pass over the top of the defense and Grogan raced through and calmly slid the ball under the keeper to complete the scoring.

Though Middle Tennessee broke loose for three goals and had 21 shots, Rhoden said one of the few disappointments was the manner in which his team finished.

"I was a little disappointed in our finishing," Rhoden said. "We had a lot of shots but most of them were high or straight to the keeper so we have some work to do in that area but at least the mentality of wanting to finish the ball and shooting the ball is getting there and that's a good thing for us."

Middle Tennessee's patented defense was stifling as usual as Murray State had difficulty finding consistent scoring opportunities. A host of defenders were rotated; however, mainstays Katy Rayburn and Sara Wohlhueter were stalwarts.

"The veteran players are still doing what they do," Rhoden said. "Holly is scoring goals, (Rebecca) Rodriguez is creating them, and (Rayburn and Wohlhueter) are preventing them. (Rodriguez) was solid today. Wohlhueter was steady in the back, while Rayburn played a very solid, consistent game."

Middle Tennessee utilized the services of both of its keepers in the contest with each getting equal work. Courtney Fortner got the start and saw 46 minutes of action, while freshman Erynn Murray was in goal for 44 minutes. Neither keeper was ever consistently under fire; however, each came up big on the few opportunities they had. Fortner finished with three saves and Murray added a pair.

The Blue Raiders utilized the services of several newcomers in the friendly as four freshmen from the highly-regarded 2006 signing class earned starts in their first collegiate match. Defenders Kate Donnelly and Lauren Eaton earned starts, as did midfielders Mary Zapapas and Kathrine Andresen.

Additionally, freshmen Jennifer Threlkeld, Jeanette Heltne, and Murray each saw action, as did Farrant, a sophomore transfer who provided an assist in the win.

"It was a good mixture of having the young and the old and it was good to see everyone contributing," Rhoden said. "I think Zapapas was very strong in midfield and she didn't look like a freshman at all. She showed a lot of people that she's here and she's solid. Donnelly stepped in a left fullback and played a decent game. I was pleased with all of them because they got their first college action and they responded."

Middle Tennessee will return to the practice field Sunday at 8 p.m., as it begins preparation for the season opener against Southern Mississippi Friday at 7 p.m. at Blue Raider Field.

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