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Blue Raider soccer continues to roll

Wins MT Classic to improve to 4-0

September 3, 2006 · MT Media Relations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Blue Raider Soccer Express continues to roll.

Middle Tennessee turned back Jacksonville State, 4-1, in front of 420 at Blue Raider Field Sunday, to win its third straight Middle Tennessee Soccer Classic. In the process, Middle Tennessee improved to 4-0 to start the season; increased its win streak to 15 at Blue Raider Field; won its 10th consecutive regular season match, dating to last season; and delivered fifth-year Head Coach Aston Rhoden his 50th career win leading the Blue Raider assault.

"This was a very good showing by our team in this tournament and I'm proud of their play in both games," said Rhoden, who is the all-time winningest coach in program history with a 50-28-7 mark in four-plus seasons at Middle Tennessee. When asked what the highlight of those 50 wins would be Rhoden responded, "It would be hard to say which would be a highlight because the one I want hasn't happened yet, which is to get into the NCAA Tournament. That would be the highlight."

The Blue Raiders (4-0-0) started strong and never looked back as they built a comfortable 3-0 lead and secured the victory to conclude a four-match homestand to start the season. Holly Grogan, Kala Morgan, Sara Wohlhueter, and Ingrid Christensen were named to the All-Tournament team, with Grogan being named Offensive MVP and Christensen earning the Defensive MVP award, as voted on by a five-member tournament committee.

Grogan capped a sensational tournament and a hot start to the season with her fourth goal of the season to open the scoring. Kala Morgan delivered a beautiful cross to Grogan in the box, who beat her defender inside and smashed an unstoppable shot into the far left corner for a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.

The score would hold until the 27th minute when Morgan and Jen Threlkeld teamed on an assist to Mary Zapapas, who finished strong for her second career goal and a 2-0 Blue Raider lead.

Threlkeld, who scored two goals and assisted on another, capped the first-half scoring in the 35th minute when she took a header from Kathrine Andresen and smashed it past the keeper from 10 yards out to send the Blue Raiders into the half with a 3-0 cushion.

"We were expecting Jacksonville State to basically be the type of team that would sit in and try to counter attack and they did just that," Rhoden said. "I think we changed some things in our lineup to prevent the counter attack and it paid off, plus we were very aggressive and attacking on offense and that led to several scoring chances."

Middle Tennessee, which outshot the Gamecocks (0-4-0) 24-6, added its final goal when Threlkeld headed in a beautiful corner from Kim Farrant in the 47th minute. Daniela Malta scored Jacksonville State's only goal in the 67th minute to deny the Blue Raiders their first shutout of the season.

The Blue Raiders utilized every player on their roster in the championship triumph, which was decided by goal differential as Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky each went 2-0 in the Classic; however, the Blue Raiders had a plus 5 goal differential to the Hilltoppers' plus 3. Western Kentucky turned back Evansville 1-0 in overtime in the earlier contest Sunday.

Freshman keeper Erynn Murray was in goal for the second half, while newcomers Threlkeld, Andresen, Zapapas, and Farrant tallied points in the match either via goals or assists.

NOTES: The Blue Raiders won their third consecutive Middle Tennessee Classic ... Next year's tournament field includes Mississippi State and Tulsa with a fourth team to be determined ... Middle Tennessee fifth-year head coach Aston Rhoden notched his 50th win leading the Blue Raiders and is 50-28-7 since being hired in 2002 ... The Blue Raiders have won 10 straight regular-season matches and 15 straight at Blue Raider Field ... Holly Grogan moved into a tie with Hailee Walsh (1998-99) for fifth on the career points list with 50, and she also moved into a tie with Walsh for fifth on the career goals list with 21.

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