Two Of Nation's Top Offenses Collide At Blue Raider FieldOctober 28, 2004 · MT Media Relations
Middle Tennessee (10-4-1, 4-1-1) features the second-highest offense in the nation at 3.79 goals per game, while South Alabama (10-4-2, 2-2-2) counters with a scoring offense ranked No. 3 nationally at 3.50 goals per game.
"South Alabama is not going to be an easy opponent for us," Middle Tennessee coach Aston Rhoden said. "They are a very dynamic team, very well coached, they have a good keeper (Amber Agnermeier) and they are scoring a lot of goals. The quality of their forwards is such that we have to be on our toes."
The Blue Raiders are playing their best soccer entering this weekend's final matches of the regular season. Middle Tennessee is unbeaten in its last six matches, putting together a 5-0-1 mark, to climb to within one-half game of North Texas for the top spot in the SBC. Although Middle Tennessee's offense has been potent throughout the season, the Blue Raiders' defense also has been better than representative.
It will take a strong match from defenders Jessica Northcutt, Sara Wohlhueter, Katy Rayburn and Halley Dawe, as well as keeper Jenny Manis, to curtail the Jaguars' potent attack. Middle Tennessee has surrendered just 16 goals in 15 matches, and it has allowed only six in as many SBC contests.
"You can attribute a great deal to the players who play back there because all of them have contributed," Rhoden said. "Our defense has been sound and steadily improving and we are going to need another strong showing this weekend."
Forward Debs Brereton leads Middle Tennessee's high-octane offense with 13 goals and 33 total points. She is No. 9 nationally in points per game (2.36), and tied for No. 14 nationally in goals per game (0.93), but the Blue Raiders are far from a one-person attack. Brereton, freshman Holly Grogan (seven goals) and sophomore Rachel Holmes (six goals) are all among the SBC's Top 10 in goals, while senior Laura Miguez and Brereton and tied for second in the SBC in assists with seven. Newcomer Lisa-Marie Woods is tied for fifth in assists with five.
Middle Tennessee will be trying to extend the longest home winning streak in school history entering Friday's match. The Blue Raiders have won nine straight dating to last season, but they will have their hands full against a South Alabama squad that has enjoyed tremendous success away from home. The Jaguars are 5-1-1 on the road this season, and they have allowed just six goals in the team's last 11 games.
The Blue Raiders' "Family Weekend" begins with Friday's match and the five Middle Tennessee seniors - Debs Brereton, Ashley Elliott, Danielle LaDuke, Laura Miguez and Jessica Northcutt - will be recognized prior to playing their final home game when Louisiana-Lafayette comes calling Sunday at 2 p.m.
"The input of all five of our seniors has been very valuable this season," Rhoden said. "Some of them may play more than others but those who don't play as much have been the best team players you can ask for. Senior Day is always a special day and this has been a very special group."
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