Sept. 28, 2012
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The UAB men’s soccer team will open Conference USA play when it welcomes the SMU Mustangs to West Campus Field on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.
UAB and SMU will meet for the 11th time in series history, with the Mustangs owning a 5-3-2 advantage. Last season, the two teams split a pair of contests. The Blazers captured a 1-0 win in Dallas on their way to the regular season title. But SMU returned the favor with a 2-0 victory in the 2011 C-USA Championship game.
This will be the fourth meeting between the rivals at West Campus Field. SMU has won two of the three contests played in Birmingham. The lone Blazer victory came in 2006, when UAB captured a 2-1 win over the then-No. 1 Mustangs.
What’s On Deck
UAB will begin an important two-game road stretch with a game at FIU on Saturday, Oct. 6 (6:00 p.m. CT). Following that match, the Blazers will travel to South Carolina for contest against the Gamecocks on Oct. 10 (6:00 p.m. CT).
UAB enters the contest Friday night sporting a 5-2-2 record through nine games on the year. The Blazers are riding a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) following a 3-0 home victory over Lipscomb in the final non-conference match of the regular season.
Leading the way is senior forward Kofi Gyawu
, who enters the contest topping the Blazers in goals (4), points (10), shots (23) and shots on goal (12). He is tied for the team lead in assists (2) and game-winning goals (1).
Freshman reserve forward Freddy Ruiz, who has scored three goals in the last two contests, ranks second on the team in goals and points (6).
Senior defender Mladen Lemez and junior goalkeeper Raphael Ville have combined to hold the opposition to only two goals over the last four matches. Ville, who has three shutouts on the year, ranks second in C-USA with a 0.83 goals against average. The native of Courbevoie, France native has made 39 saves, while allowing just eight goals on the year.
Head coach Mike Getman is in his 21st season at the helm of the Blazers men’s soccer program. He owns a record of 230-138-34 (.614) record during his time at UAB, and boasts an overall coaching record of 272-164-43 (.619) in his 26 seasons as a head coach.
SMU is receiving votes to be ranked in the latest SoccerTimes.com poll, boasting a 5-2-2 record and a 1-0 mark in C-USA play. The Mustangs are riding a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) entering Saturday night’s contest.
Lockdown Defense Is Key
UAB is riding a four-game unbeaten streak entering C-USA play. A big reason why has been the Blazers’ backline, led by senior defender Mladen Lemez and junior goalkeeper Raphael Ville.
Over the four-game stretch, UAB has recorded three shutouts and held the opposition to just two goals.
Lemez and Ville are a big reason why the Blazers’ defense has not allowed a goal in 211 consecutive minutes entering league play.
UAB In The National Rankings
The UAB men’s soccer remained in the nation’s top 30, checking in at No. 23 in the country in the Soccer Times.com and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top-25 polls. The Blazers are No. 26 in CollegeSoccerNews.com’s top-30 national poll.
Furthermore, UAB was ranked as the No. 1 team in the Midwest Region by the NSCAA.
The Blazers have now been ranked among the nation’s top-25 teams in 17 of the last 19 seasons.
Below is a look at where the Blazers have been ranked in the national polls for each of the three weeks this season:
Week NSCAA CSN Soccer Times
Preseason 21 20 23
8/26 17 16 18
9/3 25 24 22
9/10 RV (27) 29 RV (28)
9/17 RV (26) 26 24
9/24 23 26 23
Freddy On Fire
True freshman Freddy Ruiz came off the bench to score two of UAB’s three goals, including the game-winner, in the 3-0 win over Lipscomb last Saturday. In fact, Ruiz, who has played in six games this year, has scored three of the Blazers last four tallies entering Saturday’s contest.
“Soccer For A Cure” Champs
With a 2-2 tie vs. Fairleigh Dickinson and a 2-0 shutout over then-No. 20 Washington, the UAB men’s soccer team claimed the 2012 “Soccer For A Cure” Classic title.
With the win, the Blazers captured the tournament championship, marking the ninth time in 15 years they have won the event.
Four UAB men’s soccer players garnered “Soccer For A Cure” Classic All-Tournament honors for their efforts in helping the team claim the championship.
Senior defender Mladen Lemez was named the Classic’s Most Valuable Player, while Reed Matte, Kofi Gyawu and Moses Adeniran were also named to the all-tournament team.
Tough Schedule-Good Results
The Blazers have played a strong schedule this season as three of the nine teams they have faced during the regular season have been ranked in the top-20 in the nation.
UAB has a 1-1-1 record against ranked opponents this year. The Blazers tied then-No. 3 Charlotte, 1-1, on the road (Aug. 31) and defeated then-No. 20 Washington, 2-0, at home (9/16). The lone loss was at No. 8 New Mexico (9/8).
According to the most recent Massey Ratings (9/23), UAB’s strength of schedule ranks 50th in the country.
UAB Soccer Best In C-USA
UAB head coach Mike Getman knows a few things about winning games in Conference USA. Since the league began back in 1995, Getman ranks as the conference’s all-time winningest coach, racking up an astounding 83 C-USA victories, which is nearly 40 wins better than his closest competition (John Tart of Charlotte with 45). Following the 2011 C-USA regular season, the Blazers’ head coach owns an overall conference record of 83-48-13 (.623).
In addition, UAB is the winningest league team since the inception of C-USA (1995), with a record of 195-110-28 (.628), which leads all league squads in terms of total wins. Memphis is in second in the league with 119 overall wins over that same time frame.
C-USA Soccer Ranked No. 3 Among NCAA Conferences
C-USA play should be exciting this season, as the league has posted the nation’s fourth-best non-conference record at 37-20-10 (.637) and is rated as the country’s No. 3 league in the latest Massey Ratings.
Moreover, the most recent Massey Ratings (9/23) had six C-USA teams among the nation’s top 50 in strength of schedules this season - tied for the most of any league in the country (ACC, Big East).
Matte Named UAB Student-Athlete of the Week
Senior defender Reed Matte has been selected as the Student-Athlete of the Week, presented by Waffle House, for the week of Sept. 17. It is the second time that Matte has earned the honor, which acknowledges those who succeed both in the classroom and in athletic competition for the Blazers.