Soccer squad falls to Vanderbilt in second half

COOKEVILLE, Tenn - The Tennessee Tech soccer team welcomed undefeated Vanderbilt to Tech Soccer field Sunday, and was one half away from sending the Commodores home with their first loss of 2008.

The Golden Eagles took a 1-0 lead into halftime, after freshman goalkeeper Kaitlyn Thacker posted her third consecutive shutout half. But the Commodore offense came alive in the second half, putting up four quick goals, and giving Vanderbilt (5-0-0) a 4-1 victory.

"Vanderbilt is so well coached, they're disciplined, and they're very organized," coach Becky Fletcher said. "They're just kind of a machine, the whole group works together. They possess the ball so well, and in the second half we just kind of chased around."

Sophomore Ashley Smith put Tech up 1-0 in the first half, when she scored a goal off the rebound of Katie Hoover's shot. The goal was Smith's second of the season.

After a physical match Friday, which Tech won at home 1-0 against Appalachian State, the Golden Eagles (1-4-0) were unable to come out with the same energy in the second half that they did in the first.

"It's one of those things, soccer is a 90 minute game," Fletcher said. "We've got to get fit. People are going to play 90 minutes, and we've got to be ready to play Friday and Sunday. We played a great 45 minutes today, we just need to be able to put it together for 90."

After making a point blank save off her face Friday, Thacker played against Vanderbilt with a black eye, and finished the game with 13 saves.

"She's aggressive, she studies, and she knows what to do back there, and she gets it done," Fletcher said of Thacker.

Five games into the season, Fletcher and assistant Chris Walker have seen an improved Golden Eagle squad take the field each game.

"We've seen the little things that have gotten better every game," Walker said. "Friday they put together nearly a complete game, and today they put together a great 45 minutes against a top level, Division-I team."

The Golden Eagles will continue to work on the little things in practice this week, before making an eight hour drive to Ohio to face Bowling Green on Sept. 12 and Toledo on Sept. 14.

Tech plays at Chattanooga on Sept. 17 before returning to Tech Soccer Field to face UNC Asheville on Sept. 21. Admission to Tech home soccer games is free.