KICKING IT OFF: The Arkansas State soccer team returns to action in their first regular-season tournament of the year, hosting the Red Wolves Cup Sept. 4-6 at the ASU Soccer Park. ASU plays Mississippi Valley State and Grambling on Friday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. respectively. Also in the tournament field is UCA who opens tournament play against Grambling Friday at 1 p.m. while also playing MVSU on Sunday at 11 a.m.
THE SERIES: ASU is 1-0 against Mississippi Valley State, owning a 4-1 win over the Delta Devilettes during the 2003 season. Sunday will be the first time that ASU meets Grambling in soccer action.
THE OPPONENTS: MVSU owns a 0-1 record losing at Jacksonville State last weekend, with a score of 0-4. Grambling is 0-2 on the year with losses to Northwestern State (0-2) and TWU (0-1). Neither team has scored a goal this season.
LAST GAME: (9/1/09) - Although ASU outshot Arkansas-Pine Bluff 29-4, they only managed to find the back of the net once en route to dropping a home soccer match to the Lady Lions 2-1 last Tuesday at the ASU Soccer Park.
The Red Wolves fired off 17 shots on goal, while UAPB managed only three shots on goal, finding the back of the net twice.
"All credit to Pine Bluff, they came out and played with more passion and energy than we did, especially in the first half," said ASU head coach Derek Pittman. "We talked about the importance of work before the game and our kids have got to start paying attention to the details. With a young team we are going to make mistakes, but can't afford to make mistakes like this against an opponent who we are so much better than. The second half we came out and played much harder like we should have from the beginning. Unfortunately at this point and time we aren't good enough to play from behind. We need to jump on people early and perform well at the beginning of games so we can wear teams down. Putting ourselves in a 0-2 hole and trying to get ourselves out of it is going to always be difficult for this group."
ASU battled back in the second half taking 19 of their 29 total shots in the second frame. Astate's 29 shots are the second-most ever taken by ASU in a single match.
Tracy Powell got the Red Wolves on the board scoring her first goal of the season on a feed from Megan Mace in the 68th minute (67:14). Powell dribbled the ball through traffic then sent the shot from the left side across the face of UAPB goalkeeper Chelsea Klein, moving the Red Wolves within one goal, 2-1.
ASU freshman Lucy Brient and Tory Pitts led ASU with five shots each. Pitts and sophomore Karly Kuranda led all players with three shots on goal.
The Lady Lions got on the board early, striking first in the fifth minute (4:27). Rachel Harker took a corner shot form Jade West in front of the goal in traffic, firing a shot into the goal for UAPB's first score.
West then took a pass from Noah Mithrush sending a shot from the left side to the top right of the goal in the 32nd minute (31:30).
The match was the first win in the series' history for UAPB and also the first time the Lady Lions managed to score a goal on ASU.
SHOOTING GALLERY PART 1: The Red Wolves peppered UCA with shots which is indicitive of the high pressure style that ASU plays. ASU outshot the Bears 22-5 in their opening contest, including taking 10 shots on goal.
SHOOTING GALLERY PART 2: During their match against UAPB the Red Wolves made 29 shots which was the second-most in ASU's history during a single match. Pitts and Brient led the ASU attack with five shots each, while 13 players took shots in the match.
TOP SCORERS: During their season opener against UCA, the Red Wolves had three players notch goals. Junior Anna Kaloughirou scored two goals, including the tying goal. Kara Nitti picked up where she left off last season, scoring a goal for ASU while freshman Tory Pitts had the final goal of the match for ASU.
FRESHMAN FIREPOWER: Although they dropped their second match of the season to Louisiana Tech the Red Wolves had some great attacking performances from two freshman. Tory Pitts and Chelsea Fricke each had three shots to lead ASU in the match. Pitts leads the Red Wolves so far this season with seven shots. Freshman Lucy Brient leads ASU with four shots on goal on the season, all four coming in its season opener against UCA. Pitts leads the team in total shots with 12, while Brient ranks second with 9.
FOUR MATCHES IN EIGHT DAYS: The ASU soccer team is playing four matches in eight days which will test the young Red Wolves team while also giving them some early experience. ASU began the eight-game stretch last Sunday against La. Tech, continues Tuesday against UAPB and hosts the Red Wolves Cup this weekend taking on Mississippi Valley and Grambling this Friday and Sunday, respectively.
YOUNG PACK: Arkansas State is one of the youngest teams in the Sun Belt Conference boasting only five upperclassmen on the squad of 24 players. In their first contest of the season ASU had nine starters who are listed as a freshman or a sophomore on the Red Wolves roster.
TENTH SEASON: The 2009 season will mark the tenth for the ASU women's soccer program. The Red Wolves own an all-time record of 39-122-8.
TOP SCORERS RETURN: three of ASU's top six scorers from a year ago return for the Red Wolves this season. Along with Nitti, Anna Kaloghirou (Jr./4 goals), Michele Clark (Soph./2 goals).
HEAD COACH DEREK PITTMAN: Arkansas State Head Coach Derek Pittman begins his third season with the ASU soccer program after coming to Arkansas State prior to the 2007 season.
Pittman, an assistant coach for the University of Missouri's women's soccer program for the three years prior to coming to Jonesboro, worked primarily with goalkeepers and defense at Missouri. He assumed his duties at ASU Jan. 4, 2007.
One of the first things Derek Pittman had on his agenda when he arrived at Arkansas State University was to install a rallying cry for the Red Wolves soccer program - "Building A Winning Tradition". Pittman hit the ground running when he arrived at ASU, immediately installing a strong offseason conditioning program and setting up a competitive spring workout schedule which pitted ASU against both in-state and out-of-state opponents.
Pittman has posted an 8-24-4 record while at the helm of the ASU program including posting ASU's first win over Middle Tennessee State, which was also the program's first win over a conference foe in four years.
The 35-year-old Pittman joined the Missouri staff in 2004 after spending the 2003 season at the University of Georgia. He was responsible for coaching the Tigers' goalkeeper to career bests in shutouts and saves as well as the team to season bests in shutouts and fewest goals allowed.
At Georgia, he was responsible for the Bulldogs' recruiting in addition to his coaching duties. While there he coached the goalkeeper to career bests in wins, shutouts, and goals against average. In 2003, the Bulldogs finished 13-10-0 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
A 1998 graduate of Tulsa, Pittman also served as a graduate assistant coach for the school's men's soccer program from 2001-03. Under his direction, Tulsa's goalkeepers had career bests in saves, shutouts and goals against average in a season. During the 2002 season, the Hurricanes were ranked 12th nationally and fifth in the Midwest Region.
Pittman, who is licensed by the United States Soccer Federation with a USSF "B" coaching license, has also coached on the club level including stints with the Pride Soccer Club of Missouri, the Tulsa Soccer Club of Oklahoma and the Little Rock Futbol Club of Arkansas.
As a four-year letterman, he was the starting goalkeeper at the University of Tulsa from 1993-96 and was a second-team Missouri Valley All-Conference pick in 1995. As a senior, the Hurricanes were ranked in the top 25.
Professionally, Pittman played for the Barrow Amateur Football Club in England while studying at Lancaster University. After training with the Division I Sheffield United and Burnley Football Club, he returned to the United States and played with the Columbus Comets and the Savannah RugRatz in the Eastern Indoor Soccer League.
Pittman, originally from Owasso, Okla., received his bachelor's of science degree in business administration from Tulsa and has done graduate work in education toward his masters degree. He is married to former Amber Swinehart, who was an All-Big XII player at Missouri.
Pittman and his wife Amber have a daughter, Emma, who is five months old.
ASSISTANT COACH LISA BERG: Beginning her second season with the ASU Soccer program, Lisa Berg was named assistant soccer coach at Arkansas State University Aug. 9, 2008.
Berg comes to ASU from Minnesota, where she served as a volunteer assistant for the last two years with the Golden Gopher soccer program. Berg was an Academic All-Big 10 player for the Golden Gophers from 2003-05 and helped rebuild the Minnesota soccer program during her time as a player and assistant coach. While at Minnesota, Berg helped lift the Gopher program from the bottom of the Big 10 to a consistent qualifier for the conference tournament in a league that annually sends multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament.
"I am very excited to have Lisa on board here at Arkansas State," said Pittman. "She brings a ton of energy and enthusiasm. She also brings a great amount of experience to ASU after being involved with a top program at Minnesota. I think that having that big-school mentality will help our players realize what it takes to continue to raise our program to the next level."
"Lisa is also fantastic at community service," added Pittman. "She is already looking for ways to get our kids out in the community and help raise the awareness of soccer in the Jonesboro area."
She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2006 after majoring in Kinesiology/Pre Physical Therapy, with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. Berg currently holds a USSF National C Coaching License and while in Minnesota worked with the St. Croix Soccer Club, the North Suburban Soccer Club and the East Select Soccer Club. She also worked with the Minnesota Olympic Development Program.
"My experience with helping to rebuild the program at Minnesota and seeing the processes involved with that will really fit well with Arkansas State," said Berg. "There is so much potential here with the facilities, staff and community support. The players have bought into wanting to build a really solid program as well. Coach Pittman and I work well together, have similar ideas, and will complement each other as a staff."
HELP BUILD A WINNING TRADITION: ASU soccer fans have the opportunity to help the Red Wolves build a winning soccer tradition by joining the Red Wolves Goal Club. Level 1 ($50) members receive a quarterly newsletter and an autographed 2009 ASU Soccer poster. Level 2 members($100) receive the benefits of Level 1, plus a ticket to the ASU soccer banquet and an ASU T-shirt. For more information or to join the Red Wolves Goal Club, contact assistant coach Lisa Berg at 870-972-8193 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RED WOLVES KIDS' CLUB: Youth agest 9-13 are invited to join the Red Wolves Kids' Club and be a ball kid at any of ASU's home soccer game. Kids' Club members also have the opportunity to participate in team introductions and pregame ceremonies. To join the Red Wolves Kids' Club, contact assistant coach Lisa Berg at 870-972-8193 or email@example.com.
RED WOLVES SKILLS CLINIC: Following the game versus Troy on Sunday, Sept. 27 there will be the second of two free ASU Kids Skills Clinic hosted by the ASU soccer team. The clinic will run from 3:45-4:30 p.m. following the soccer game. The clinic is open to all age and skill levels. Kids should bring soccer cleats or running shoes, a ball and a water bottle.
The first clinic was a great hit with several young players attending to receive free instruction from the Astate players and coaches.
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