ASU Soccer opens Sun Belt play today - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

ASU Soccer opens Sun Belt play today

KICKING IT OFF: Arkansas State returns home to face South Alabama and Troy to open Sun Belt Conference play at the ASU Soccer Park. The Red Wolves battle the Jaguars on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and play the Trojans at 1 p.m. Sunday.

THE SERIES:  ASU has not had much success against these two programs not earning a win past either one in their histories. ASU is 0-8-1 against South Alabama earning a 1-1 tie against the Jags during the 2004 season. ASU is 0-4 against Troy in their series which goes back four seasons.

THE OPPONENTS: South Alabama is 2-6 on the season, earning wins past Southern Miss and Jacksonville. USA has been winless their last two matches, being outscored by opponents 9-1 during that stretch. Brandi Smith and Landi Wilson lead the Jags with two goals each. Liz Clark leads the team with two assists. Katie Berry has played in six games owning a record of 2-4. She has made 39 saves, which ranks  fifth in the conference and owns a goals against average of 2.39. Troy enters action this weekend with a 4-3-1 record earning wins over Alabama A&M, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State and Alabama State. The Trojans have not enjoyed a victory since Sept. 6 going 0-2-1 during that stretch. ASU and the Trojans have faced one common opponent in Mississippi Valley State, who Troy tied 1-1 after double-overtime on Sept. 13. Bridget Duke and Jill Pinder lead Troy with four goals each. Duke also leads the squad in points with 11 and with three assists. Ashley Branham has played in all eight contests this season, drawing seven starts. She has allowed just seven goals making 38 saves with a goals against average of 0.91 which ranks third in the conference.

LAST GAME: (9/20/09) -  The No. 21 ranked Oklahoma State soccer team lived up to its ranking as the Cowgirls downed the Arkansas State soccer team, 5-0 Sunday at the Cowgirl soccer complex in the Red Wolves final tune-up match before beginning Sun Belt Conference play next weekend.
    Freshman Lucy Brient led the Red Wolves with three shots, while freshman Ashley McMurtry added two shots.
    The Red Wolves were held to their lowest shot total of the season, taking only six shots in the match three of which were on goal.
    ASU held Oklahoma State to one goal in the first period. Megan Marchesano scored on a rebound from a shot which was blocked by ASU goalkeeper Susan Brown in the 28th minute (27:45).
    Brown made a career-high 11 saves in the match, facing nearly twice as many shots as in any previous contest, during the first half Brown's play kept the scoring gap close.
    OSU outshot the Red Wolves 29-6 taking 16 shots on goal to ASU's three shots on goal.
    The Cowgirls struck again in the 58th minute (57:27) when Annika Niemeier took a shot from 12 yards out.
    Oklahoma State then opened up the scoring distance on ASU scoring three goals in the final 17 minutes of action. Siera Strawser scored two unassisted goals in the final minutes of the match striking at the 73:55 and 87:29 marks.
    Katie Richardson added the other tally taking a feed from Sarah Brown in the 80th minute (87:29).

IN SUN BELT OPENERS: The Red Wolves open conference competition this weekend hosting South Alabama and Troy at the ASU Soccer Park. ASU is 1-8 in all-time conference openers. Their only conference opener win came during the 2003 season when they defeated ULM on the road, 2-1.

SIERS-TOURNEY MVP: ASU sophomore defender Stasha Siers was named the tournament MVP of the inaugural Red Wolves Cup last weekend. Siers was joined on the team by fellow ASU players Susan Brown, Kara Nitti and Ashley McMurtry.

ATTENDANCE RECORD: In their first home game of the season against UCA , ASU has already broken their single-game attendance record set last season in their season opener. ASU had 712 fans in attendance to kick off the 2009 season and attendance has continued to be record-setting for the Red Wolves.

BACK TO BACK SHUTOUTS: Two weekends ago the Red Wolves posted the first back-to-back shutout victories in program history since the 2001 season when ASU beat ULM and Alabama A&M in consecutive shutouts.

OUTSHOOTING THE COMPETITION:ASU has outshot all but one opponent this season with a total margin of 146-78, averaging 18.2 per game to 9.8 by their competition. During last season ASU took 226 shots for the entire season, while they have reached more than half that mark through only five games this season. ASU's 226 shots last season was a record for most shots in a season, they are on pace to crush that mark this season.  ASU freshman Tory Pitts and Lucy Brient lead the Red Wolves in shots with 16 each.

TOP SCORERS: Through eight games this season ASU has four players who have scored multiple goals. ASU sophomore Kara Nitti leads the team with three goals and one assist. Freshmen Ashley McMurtry and Chelsea Fricke and junior Anna Kaloughirou rank second with two goals each. ASU sophomore Meghan Mace leads the team with three assists.

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 lberg@astate.edu.

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 lberg@astate.edu.

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.

FOLLOW THE RED WOLVES ON FACEBOOK: To become a fan of our Facebook Page, go to www.facebook.com and search for "Arkansas State University Soccer".  We currently have 212 fans and we are aiming to get 500 Facebook Fans by our Sun Belt Conference opener next Friday, September 25th at 4:30 PM against South Alabama.  On our the "Arkansas State University Soccer" Facebook Page you can find events that the soccer team will be participating in and hosting, game results, and interesting stories and photos of all your favorite Red Wolves Soccer players.  We encourage all fans, alumni, and family members of the Red Wolves Soccer Program to become a fan today!

ASU SOCCER IS TWEETING: The Arkansas State soccer team is on twitter! You can follow all the action via ASU Soccer "Tweets". To follow ASU Soccer on Twitter visit twitter.com/redwolvessoccer. Twitter is a great way to follow anyone via microblogs and get the most up-to-date information on your favorite people and groups. GO RED WOLVES!

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