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Third straight winning season, record-setting offense highlights 2005 soccer season

January 1, 2006 · MT Media Relations
Middle Tennessee was expected to experience a rebuilding year in 2005 after losing three of the top scorers in school history from its 2004 championship team, as well as having 10 newcomers represent 50 percent of the team's roster against a challenging non-conference slate.

Instead of reloading in 2005, Middle Tennessee simply rebuilt under the direction of fourth-year head coach Aston Rhoden. The Blue Raiders tied the single-season school record for wins with 13 and finished second - one game behind North Texas - in a tight Sun Belt Conference race. Middle Tennessee turned in a third-straight winning season for the first time in program history and it has a sterling 64 percent winning percentage (38-16-6) during this three-year surge. Rhoden's four-year mark stands at an impressive 46-28-7 for a 57 percent winning percentage. Following is a recap of the Blue Raiders' successful 2005 campaign.

ANOTHER WINNING CAMPAIGN: Middle Tennessee turned in its third straight winning season in 2005, becoming the only team in program history to accomplish the feat and it did so by tying the school record for wins with 13. The Blue Raiders reached the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Championships for the third straight year before suffering a gut-wrenching 1-0 setback to host South Alabama. Middle Tennessee had an eight-game unbeaten streak snapped with the semifinal setback.

HIGH-POWERED OFFENSE: The Blue Raiders' high-powered offense finished the season ranked No. 21 nationally in scoring offense at 2.45 goals per game. Middle Tennessee's offensive display in 2005 enabled the team to finish the season among the top scoring squads in program history. The 135 points (49 goals, 37 points) is second on the single-season list, as is the 6.75 points per game. Middle Tennessee's 49 goals were good for second on the single-season list - four goals off the pace set in 2004, while the team also was third for a single season in goals per game (2.45).

LENDING A HELPING ... FOOT: Unselfish play and crisp passing enabled the 2005 Blue Raiders to set a single-season record for assists with 37, besting the previous record of 36 in 2003. Rebecca Rodriguez led the team with nine assists, which tied for third on the single-season assists list, The Blue Raiders had 12 different players provide helpers. Kaley Forrest and Claire Ward tied for second on the squad with five assists each.

DEFENSE SOLID ONCE AGAIN: Defense again was a staple for Middle Tennessee, which enjoyed seven shutouts in 2005. The seven blankings were second most in a single season, two behind the record nine shutouts in 2003, and enabled the Blue Raiders to establish a new single-season record for goals against average (1.11). The 23 goals allowed were second fewest for a single season. The Blue Raiders allowed 22 goals in 2004.

FIVE EARN ALL-SBC: Five Middle Tennessee soccer players were named to the All-Sun Belt team in 2005, marking the third consecutive year the Blue Raiders have landed as many on the team. Sophomore defender Ingrid Christensen was named the Sun Belt's Newcomer of the Year - the fourth straight year Middle Tennessee has won the award under coach Aston Rhoden. Forwards Holly Grogan and Rebecca Rodriguez were named to the league's 11-member first team, while midfielder Claire Ward, and defenders Katy Rayburn and Christensen earned second-team accommodation.

POSTSEASON HONORS: Rebecca Rodriguez and Claire Ward were named to the Aeropostale Sun Belt Championships All-Tournament team in 2005. Rodriguez also was named to the Soccer Buzz All-Region Third team.

MILESTONE WINS: When Middle Tennessee swept perennial league powers Denver and North Texas, respectively, in the final weekend of the regular season, it became only the second team in Sun Belt history to accomplish the feat. The Blue Raiders knocked off Denver, 3-2, and then completed the sweep with a 3-0 blanking of regular season and tournament champion North Texas. South Alabama is the only other team to sweep the tough weekend series, doing so in 2000.

AN ACC FIRST: Clemson became the first team Middle Tennessee has played from the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005 and the Blue Raiders enjoyed one of the biggest non-conference wins in school history at their expense. Middle Tennessee's Holly Grogan scored on an assist from Kaley Forrest in the 32nd minute and the defense made it stand in a 1-0 win. Clemson entered the game ranked seventh in the Southeast Region. Clemson would go on to earn an at-large berth into the NCAA College Cup.

RODRIGUEZ TOPS MARK: Junior Rebecca Rodriguez became Middle Tennessee's career leader in goals scored with 27 during a remarkable 2005 campaign. The Dallas, Texas native set the career scoring mark with a goal against North Texas in the regular-season finale, besting the mark of 26 held by former teammate Laura Miguez. Rodriguez had 12 goals for the season, tied for fourth on the single-season list. Rodriguez also moved into second on the career points list with 68 (27 goals, 14 assists), 14 behind Miguez' 82. The 33 points Rodriguez scored in 2005 were second in a single season. The versatile forward also is third on the career assists list with 14.

RODGRIGUEZ STARTS WITH BANG: Rebecca Rodriguez put on an offensive clinic as Middle Tennessee exploded for one of its highest-scoring outputs in an 8-0 win against Lipscomb in the season opener. Rodriguez established a new single-game record for points (12), while tying the single-game marks for goals (four) and assists (four) to lead the Blue Raider assault. The eight goals were the fifth most in a single game as Middle Tennessee opened its 10th season of women's soccer in resounding fashion. Rodriguez broke the previous mark of eight points in a game, besting a record she previously shared with Laura Miguez, while tying her own record for goals in a game. The four assists also tied Miguez for most in a single game.

MAKING A MOVE: Holly Grogan did not suffer through a sophomore slump in 2005. Grogan put together a strong season with 10 goals and 22 points, second on the team in both categories, and made a move on the career charts in the process. The 22 points are seventh best for a single season while the 10 goals are tied for sixth. Grogan's breakout season enabled her to move to sixth on the career points (39) and goals scored (17) lists.

GROGAN EARNS NATIONAL HONOR: Holly Grogan became the first Blue Raider soccer player to earn a national weekly award when she was named to the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week, Nov. 2. Grogan earned a spot on the 11-person national team as a forward after helping lead Middle Tennessee to wins against Denver and North Texas. Grogan had three goals in the two games and was credited with the game-winning goal in each win. The Bexhill, England native also was a two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week recipient in 2005.

HOME-FIELD SUCCESS: Middle Tennessee continued its home-field success in 2005 with a 7-2 overall mark and 4-0 worksheet against Sun Belt teams. The Blue Raiders ended the season with a 10-game unbeaten streak against league foes dating to 2003. The last time Middle Tennessee lost a home match to a league opponent was Oct. 17, 2003, when it dropped a 4-2 decision to Denver.

NEWCOMERS AMONG BEST: Middle Tennessee's 2005 signing class was rated among the nation's best by SoccerBuzz.com. The Blue Raider siging class was rated No. 1 in the Sun Belt, and regarded as a Top 15 class in the Central Region. Middle Tennessee's signees, who include 10 newcomers to the defending Sun Belt Conference champions, also were rated among the top 55 classes in the country. The 2005 Blue Raider soccer signing class included: Brittany Buford, GK, Daniel Hand HS in Madison, Conn.; Nenita Burgess, D/MF, Cardijn College in Adelaide, South Australia; Ingrid Christensen, D/MF, Oslo University College in Sandefjord, Norway; Katie Daley, MF, St. Illytds Roman Catholic in Cardiff, Wales; Courtney Fortner, GK, St. Joseph HS in Lakewood, Calif.; Lauren Fox, D, Springboro HS in Springboro, Ohio; Elizabeth Hutter, D, Miamisburg HS in Miamisburg, Ohio; Jordan LeFan, MF, from Franklin, Tenn., Kala Morgan, F, from Aberoare, Wales; and Caitlin Reeves, D/MF, McKinney HS in McKinney, Texas.

ATTENDANCE MARK SET: Middle Tennessee established a new single-game home attendance record with 1,285 against Vanderbilt.

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