23-match win streak at Blue Raider Field comes to halt

MT drops 2-1 decision in Sun Belt soccer opener

September 28, 2007 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee soccer players had to deal with something they had never encountered during their Blue Raider careers Friday night when they suffered a gut-wrenching 2-1 setback to Florida Atlantic in the Sun Belt opener for both teams.

For the first time in 24 matches they walked off Blue Raider Field on the losing end of the scoreboard after Alicia Tirelli scored the second of her two goals in the 84th minute to lead Florida Atlantic (4-3-1, 1-0-0) to the victory.

The loss ended Middle Tennessee's 23-match win streak at Blue Raider Field, as well as its 15-game Sun Belt win streak there. It was the team's first loss at Blue Raider Field since a 4-2 loss against Denver Oct. 17, 2003.

"It was a tough match but overall it was well played and Florida Atlantic put together a good all-around game," Middle Tennessee coach Aston Rhoden said. "We had some of the same problems. We had several opportunities and just couldn't put them away."

Tirelli broke a scoreless deadlock with a goal in the 74th minute but the Blue Raiders (3-4-2, 0-1-0) came back and tied the match when Holly Grogan's beautiful cross was headed in by Jen Threlkeld in the 81st minute. It was Threlkeld's team-leading sixth goal of the season and was Grogan's 22nd career assist, moving her to within one of second on the career list.

Freshman keeper Kela Casiple made her second career start and suffered a tough loss in goal. The Miami, Fla., native had a career-high 10 saves to tie for seventh on the single-game list.

Tirelli spoiled the outstanding night with a great 1 v 1 play in the 84th minute to send the visitors out with the rare win at Raider Field.

The first half featured outstanding saves by each keeper. Florida Atlantic's Jess Badders recorded three saves in the first 45 minutes but it was more missed opportunities for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee's best chance in the first half came in the 29th minute when Kala Morgan's shot ricocheted off the far post and Threlkeld's header on the rebound was just off the mark.

Casiple, meanwhile, turned in a smashing first-half performance with six saves. She turned away Alicia Tirelli from point blank range in the 18th minute and later changed direction in front of the goal to deny Trielli once again in the 35th minute.

Middle Tennessee returns to action when it plays host to Florida International Sunday at 1 p.m.

Friend of the Blue Raiders? Like us on Facebook and become part of the True Blue army today.