Blue Raiders win 17th of season; advance into SBC semis

Morgan, Zapapas score in 2-0 win

November 1, 2006 · MT Media Relations
LAFAYETTE, La. - Survive and advance is a popular motto for teams as they enter postseason play and Middle Tennessee successfully followed the blueprint for tournament success as it turned back South Alabama, 2-0, in the quarterfinals of the Johnny Carino's Sun Belt Conference Soccer Championships here Wednesday.

Kala Morgan and Mary Zapapas each scored as Middle Tennessee improved to 17-3 and moved into the semifinal round of the SBC Championships for the fourth straight season under head coach Aston Rhoden. The Blue Raiders will look to reach the title game for the first time when they face North Texas Thursday at 7 p.m.

"When you get to this tournament it is simply about winning and advancing and we were able to do that against South Alabama," Rhoden said. "We get to play another day and that's a very good thing to say at this point in the season. This was a very good team win for us and I'm pleased with the effort we displayed in what was a tough, competitive game."

The most prolific offense in the history of Sun Belt Conference soccer wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard when Zapapas played a ball in the box and delivered her 11th goal of the season in the eighth minute to stake the Blue Raiders to a 1-0 lead. Zapapas, who was named SBC Freshman of the Year Tuesday, was credited with her team-leading fifth game-winning goal of the season and became the third highest-scoring freshman in Middle Tennessee history.

"It was great to get that early goal from Mary," Rhoden said. "She played a very solid game and Kala created a lot of opportunities. We were not at our best tonight and hopefully some of that was just opening jitters."

Middle Tennessee sealed the win in the 61st minute when Morgan scored a brilliant goal after putting a nifty move on a Jaguar defender and then raced downfield and delivered her accurate shot past outstretched keeper Kelsie Langford into the far corner of the net. The goal helped the Blue Raiders advance and avenges last season's 1-0 season-ending loss against South Alabama in the semifinals.

"It is quite a relief to get the first win under your belt and move along in the tournament," said Morgan, who delivered her national leading 21st goal of the season, which is the fifth most in a single-season in Sun Belt Conference history. "It's exciting to come out and get the win, especially since they put us out last season. Now we have to get focused and be ready for another challenge (Thursday)."

Middle Tennessee's iron-clad defense was solid as usual as the Blue Raiders registered their eighth shutout of the season, which is second on the single-season list. Defenders Nenita Burgess, Ingrid Christensen, Katy Rayburn, and Sara Wohlhueter were unyielding in the back, while the midfield play also was superb; however, the play of Caitlin Reeves and Kathrine Andresen also weighed heavily in the game's outcome.

The same can be said for freshman keeper Erynn Murray, who collected five saves and earned her 12th win of the season in goal. It was her fourth shutout of the season.

NOTES: Middle Tennessee's 17th win of the season is the second-most for a team in SBC history ... The Blue Raider offense continues to shatter league scoring records. Middle Tennessee is first all-time in SBC history for goals (77), assists (65), and points (219) ... Kala Morgan now has 21 goals this season, which is fifth most in a single-season in SBC history and her 52 points are fifth most in SBC history ... Freshman keeper Erynn Murray collected her 12th win of the season in goal, which is tied with Danielle Perreault for second-most in a single season and one shy of tying the mark for first in a single season ... With five saves against South Alabama, Murray has 55 for the season which is 10th on the single-season list. Murray's 1.15 goals-against-average is currently tied for second in a single-season with Perreault ... SBC Freshman of the Year Mary Zapapas scored her 11th goal of the season against South Alabama, which is third-most in school history for a freshman. The freshman scoring record at Middle Tennessee is 13 by Danielle LaDuke in 2001.

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