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Memphis Athletics | October 19, 2019

Memphis men's soccer uses overtime goal to down No. 3 SMU for first loss of the season

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DALLAS, Texas — Entering the night with a four-match road winning streak on the line, the Memphis men's soccer team handed No. 3 SMU its first loss of the season in overtime on Friday night with a 4-3 final score.

After Memphis led 1-0 at the half, the teams combined for five second-half goals to send the match into overtime. From there, Artur De Luca put a header in off of a corner from Christoforos Kourtis to pull off the upset less than a minute into the extra period. The game-winner from De Luca marked his first-career goal.

Memphis handed SMU its first regular season loss in over a year, with its previous defeat coming at the hands of UCF in Orlando, Floridaa, on Sept. 28, 2018. The Mustangs' last home loss during the regular season was Sept. 14, 2018, when they dropped a match to Houston Baptist.

"It was a rollercoaster of emotions. To go up, to lose the lead, to go down, then tie it up, and then to go up and have them score with three minutes left in the game, and then overtime. That had some swings," head coach Richard Mulrooney said. "The guys were firm believers that the Temple result wasn't going to happen again, whether we tied or we saw it out."

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Memphis opened the match with a concerted effort on the defensive end of the field, taking caution to the high-powered SMU offense. Choosing their spots carefully to counter attack, the Tigers took only two shots in the first half, with both shots being on goal.

Just 26 seconds before halftime, Memphis took one of its opportunities to counter attack, clearing a ball forward to Peter Chang. Driving forward, Chang slowed his momentum to send a cross to Gurman Sangha. A couple of dribbles to settle the ball later, Sangha let a shot fly, putting it into the back of the net. With the score, Memphis became just the third team to score the first goal of the match against SMU this season.

Not lying down, SMU responded 10 minutes into the second half, tying the match for the first time with a bullet of a shot from outside the 18-yard box. The Mustangs would keep momentum and take the lead in the 66th minute, seemingly regaining control of the match.

With time winding down in the half, Memphis pressed the issue, creating offense and putting SMU on its heels. Earning a corner kick in the 81st minute, the Tigers kept the offensive possession in play long enough for the ball to fall in front of Dallas, Texas native Jackson Morse, who put his head on the ball to tie the match with less than ten minutes remaining.

Five minutes later, the Tigers scored what seemed to be the all-important go-ahead goal. Driving down the field, De Luca played a ball in for Chris Mikus, who dribbled into a 1-on-1 situation with the keeper. Not having a great angle on a shot, Mikus forced the keeper to commit to him, then deftly laid the ball to the side for Kourtis, who scored his fourth goal of the season with a sliding finish.

Despite the momentum being in Memphis' favor, SMU countered in seconds, equalizing the match 17 seconds later on a well-placed long ball. The 3-3 score would hold through the remaining three minutes of regulation.

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Overtime began quickly for the Tigers, who took little time forcing offense. Pressed up for a corner kick, Kourtis dropped a dime to De Luca, who flew in and connected on the header, giving the Tigers their second top-10 win of the season.

The win sets multiple milestones for the Tigers, who claim their highest-ranked win in program history by defeating the No. 3 Mustangs. Additionally, the Tigers extended their road winning streak to five matches, surpassing a school record.

Memphis, who excels in putting shots on frame, put all nine of its shots on goal, compared to SMU's seven shots on goal of 18 total shots.

In goal, Parker Lackland made big plays throughout the match, coming off of his line to pick off long passes from SMU's midfielders. With four saves, Lackland stared down the offense that ranked second in the country in scoring offense and gave the Tigers enough to pull off the upset.

"It's nice, we don't have to rely on any one person," Mulrooney said of his four goal scorers. "This was a team win, this was another chance for the next guy to step up. It's nice to know guys are capable of it, we've got guys that can step up and get the job done."

Memphis returns home for its next match, hosting Central Arkansas on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

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