Blue Raiders face off against Troy and South Alabama
Look to remain undefeated in Sun Belt playOctober 2, 2008 · David Powell
The Blue Raiders began the conference portion of their schedule with two quality away wins last weekend, beginning with a 2-1 victory over Florida International in Miami on Friday evening. Middle Tennessee then traveled north along the coast to Boca Raton, Fla. and a Fran Howell's penalty kick proved the difference as they defeated Florida Atlantic 1-0 for their fourth win in five matches.
The Blue Raiders welcome the Troy to Blue Raider Field to begin the weekend on Friday at 6:30 PM. The Trojans hold a 6-3-2 overall record and currently sit fifth in the conference standings at 1-1 after splitting two games with Arkansas-Little Rock and Arkansas State last week.
Middle Tennessee has never lost to Troy, winning all five previous matches by a combined score of 16-2, including a 4-0 win at Troy in 2007. Sophomore midfielder Jill Pinder leads the Sun Belt in goals (13) and points (27) for a squad that has scored a conference-leading 31 goals in 11 matches.
"Troy has scored a lot of goals and they are coming off a big win against Arkansas State," said Blue Raider Head Coach Aston Rhoden. "They have one of the leading goalscorers in the conference so we expect a significant challenge from them."
The Blue Raiders conclude the weekend with a pivotal match against the South Alabama Jaguars on Sunday at 1 PM. The two teams are joined by Denver at the top of the Sun Belt standings and a win would give either squad an early advantage in the race for the conference title.
Middle Tennessee and the Jaguars are meeting for the 12th time in program history, with USA holding a 6-4-1 advantage. The Blue Raiders defeated South Alabama 8-0 and 2-0 in 2006 before falling 2-1 in Mobile, Ala. last season.
"We have always gone back-and-forth with South Alabama and they have won two conference games just like us," Rhoden said. "I do not expect either game to be easy. Our team is starting to play well and I expect our players to be up for the challenge."
Both matches will be video-streamed live with commentary on GoBlueRaiders.com.
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