Grogan delivers twice more in 3-2 win against Denver; unbeaten streak reaches sixOctober 28, 2005 · MT Media Relations
The Blue Raiders (11-4-2, 5-1-2) need Western Kentucky to beat North Texas in a Friday night match in Bowling Green, Ky., to set up a winner-take-all championship showdown Sunday at 1 p.m. If North Texas wins at Western Kentucky Friday night it will clinch the regular-season title.
"The conference championship is something we have our eyes set on, but we also want to make sure we get into the conference tournament with as high a seed as we can," Middle Tennessee coach Aston Rhoden said. "We didn't start league play the way we wanted, but if there ever was a time for us to peak it is now."
Just as Middle Tennessee has been hot as a team, sophomore forward Holly Grogan also continued her late-season scoring assault. Grogan powered in two goals and recorded her fourth game-winning goal of the season to lead the Blue Raider offense against Denver. She has scored five goals and dished out an assist in the last three matches, giving her nine goals and 20 points for the season.
"I guess I've caught my second wind at the end of the season," Grogan said. "I wanted to finish up strong and play my best here at the end. It's not just me. The entire team is playing its best soccer of the season at the most important time."
The match was a scoreless stalemate into the 46th minute when Grogan broke loose, took a nifty cross from Rebecca Rodriguez and chipped it into the net from 7 yards out to send the Blue Raiders into the half with a 1-0 lead.
Middle Tennessee increased its lead to 2-0 in the 63rd minute when Rachel Holmes collected her fourth goal of the season on a well-placed pass from Nenita Burgess. Denver (7-8-2, 4-3-1); however, would not go quietly and what had been a defensive struggle for the majority of the match became a frenzied shootout that included three scores in the final 14:02.
Jenna Billingsley scored the first of her two goals in the 76th minute to pull Denver to within 2-1, but that's when Grogan turned in one of the most sensational goals of the season, bringing the crowd to its feet and giving the Blue Raiders a much-needed burst when she took a long cross from Kala Morgan and boomed a one-timer over the outstretched arms of keeper Danielle Wiley for a 3-1 advantage.
The combination of Billingsley and Lleane Grimditch struck for Denver again in the 84th minute. Billingsley took a corner kick in front of the goal and coaxed it past Middle Tennessee keeper Danielle Perreault to cut the lead to 3-2, but the Blue Raider defense held down the stretch to help the team secure the clutch win.
The win, Middle Tennessee's ninth straight home triumph against Sun Belt competition, was the product of superlative team play as every player who stepped onto the field contributed in some fashion, particularly with strong play in the midfield and back line.
The Blue Raiders will conclude the regular season against North Texas Sunday at 1 p.m. "Senior Day" activities begin at 12:45 p.m.
NOTES: Middle Tennessee increased its unbeaten streak to six straight and improved its home winning streak against Sun Belt Conference opponents to nine. The last Blue Raider home loss was a 4-2 setback against Denver, October 17, 2003 ... Junior forward Rebecca Rodriguez' assist against Denver was her eighth of the season, moving her into a tie with former teammate Laura Miguez for sixth on the single-season list ... Holly Grogan's nine goals in 2005 are tied for eight on the single-season list and her 30 points are tied for third in a single season ... With two goals against Denver, Grogan moved into sixth place on the career goals scored list with 16 ... Keeper Danielle Perreault's is tied for third on the single-season wins list with 10.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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