Blue Raiders extend home win streak to 12 with 5-2 win

September 2, 2005 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Different location, same results.

Forced to play home games at its practice facility during the month of September while new turf is installed at the game field, the Blue Raider soccer team continued its home-field dominance with a 5-2 win against East Tennessee in the Middle Tennessee College Classic Friday afternoon.

The Blue Raiders (2-1) improved their home winning streak to a school-record 12 straight dating to the 2003 season by securing victory in the home opener in front of a boisterous crowd of 620 at the soccer facility located adjacent to the softball field.

"The home winning streak is brilliant and it puts fear into the teams that come here to play us because they have to be thinking about what they have to do to beat us here," said sophomore Holly Grogan, who powered two goals in the triumph. "It's hard to beat us at home, especially if we get these type of crowds and have the fraternities come out and support us like they did today. This was a lot of fun."

Middle Tennessee jumped out to a 4-0 halftime lead and coasted to the 5-2 triumph. The Blue Raiders struck quickly when junior forward Rachel Holmes maintained her composure to calmly slot the ball to the right of keeper Erin Bilyeu and into the net for a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

The score remained 1-0 until the 21st minute when Grogan capitalized on the keeper's indecision in coming to claim a cross from Nenita Burgess. Grogan pounced on the ball and poked it into the net for her first score on the young season. The Blue Raiders increased their lead to 3-0 when midfielder Claire Ward slipped the ball through the static back four of East Tennessee and Grogan coolly knocked it around the advancing keeper and into the empty net.

Rebecca Rodriguez's fifth goal of the season on a beautiful assist from Kala Morgan enabled the Blue Raiders to roll into the half with a 4-0 lead, but East Tennessee (0-2) was far from finished. The Bucs scored two quick goals at the start of the second half to close to within 4-2 but they would get no closer and Rodriguez put the exclamation point on the win with a penalty-kick goal with one second remaining. It was the sixth goal and 16th point of the season for the red-hot Rodriguez.

"I thought we played well in areas and we really came out strong, which was good to see," Middle Tennessee coach Aston Rhoden said. "We didn't play as well in the second half and we didn't have the instinct of putting the other team away. This is one of those matches where we are able to learn a lesson but still get a win for our effort. When you have a chance to put a team away you have to do that."

If not for the continued strong play of senior keeper Danielle Perreault the Blue Raiders would have had an even more difficult task staying on the positive side of the scoreboard. Perreault saved 10 shots, giving her 19 stops in the last two games.

Alabama A&M held off Birmingham Southern, 1-0, in the first game of the Classic Friday. Sunday's games will pit East Tennessee against Alabama A&M at 1 p.m., while the Blue Raiders will play Birmingham Southern at 3 p.m.

NOTES: Middle Tennessee improved its home winning streak to 12 straight, dating to 2003, with the win ... Aston Rhoden notched his 35th career win at Middle Tennessee in three-plus seasons ... Perreault's 10 saves are tied for seventh most in a single game at Middle Tennessee. The record is 13 by Jennifer Robb in 2000 ... With two goals Friday, Rodriguez now has 22 for her career. She moved ahead of Hailee Walsh (1998-99) for fourth-place on the all-time Blue Raider list for goals ... With four more points against East Tennessee, Rodriguez now has 53 career points, which is No. 3 on the all-time list at Middle Tennessee. Rodriguez passed Emily Carter (2000-03) and is seven points behind Danielle LaDuke for second on the career points list at Middle Tennessee ... The assists by freshmen Nenita Burgess and Kala Morgan against East Tennessee are the first of their Blue Raider career.

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