COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — With just one senior and nine newcomers
on the roster, the 2011 season marks a fresh start for head coach
Daniel Brizard and the Tennessee Tech soccer team.
The Golden Eagles narrowly missed qualifying for the Ohio Valley
Conference Tournament in 2010, one season after advancing all the
way to the league championship game. It’s a return to
prominence that Brizard is seeking in his second year, and one he
hopes begins in preseason camp.
“Last year, I was still getting to know the team in the
preseason,” says Brizard, who came to Cookeville from an
assistant position at LSU. “This year, I’m trying to
integrate nine players into a team that already knows me and I know
In keeping with the theme of a fresh beginning, Tech Soccer
Field underwent several renovation projects over the summer,
including the installation of a new scoreboard, the shifting of the
bleachers from the east side of the field to the west in order to
enhance the fan experience on sunny afternoons, and a leveling of
the playing surface.
More good news for Brizard is that the Golden Eagles return both
their leading goal-scorer in junior forward Andrea Meloff and
assists leader in junior midfielder Kerri Reid as well as defensive
stalwart and team captain Lindsey Reed, the squad’s only
The head coach will look to those players in particular to guide
a team that often struggled to score in 2010.
Meloff and Reid are just two members of a talented junior class
that came of age for the Golden Eagles in 2010 as sophomores. Tech
returns all five of its leading point-scorers this season —
Meloff, Reid, Kris Cambron, Sarah Gawthrop and Jacquie Watkins
— and all five are members of the junior class.
With Reed the only senior on the roster, Brizard will lean
heavily on his juniors for leadership in 2011.
Beginning with an exhibition on Aug. 11 at Alabama A&M, Tech
will play a 20-match schedule which Brizard believes will be
competitive while also giving his young squad a chance to grow and
The Golden Eagles will play their first two regular-season
matches in the friendly confines of Tech Soccer Field as they
welcome in-state foes UT Chattanooga and Belmont to Cookeville for
a Friday-Sunday set on Aug. 19 and 21.
After that, however, Tech will embark on a seven-game road swing
that will test the team’s mettle, taking them to East
Tennessee State, UNC Asheville, Longwood, Radford and Middle
Tennessee State, while also matching them against Louisiana Tech
and New Mexico State at the Jacksonville State Tournament in
The Golden Eagles return home to host Lipscomb before opening
OVC play on the road at Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville. Tech
Soccer Field will play host to four league foes (Eastern Kentucky,
defending champion and preseason favorite Morehead State, Murray
State and Austin Peay) while the Golden Eagles will travel to
Jacksonville State and close the season with a road swing to UT
Martin and Southeast Missouri.
“This is a challenging, well-balanced schedule for what we
are trying to accomplish,” Brizard said. “None of these
opponents stands out as a ‘powerhouse’ but there are no
easy teams on the schedule, either. There are a lot of
‘winnable’ matches, but every time we play it will be
The Golden Eagles were picked to finish ninth out of ten teams
this season in OVC preseason polling. TTU will play nine conference
matches for the first time this season as SIU Edwardsville enters
its first season as a full member of the conference.
At the front of their attack, the Golden Eagles welcome back
Andrea Meloff, their leading scorer in 2010, as well as sophomore
Ellie Iaciofano, the recipient of the team’s Most Improved
Award a season ago.
Meloff scored five goals in 2010, including two game-winners,
while also dishing out an assist and posting the squad’s
highest shot percentage at .278. Iaciofano was responsible for
distributing two assists as a freshman.
Brizard expects big things from both players, and charges them
with helping lead an increase in goal production in the upcoming
Incoming freshmen Paige Spencer and Amanda Koch will give Tech
depth up front as well as bring versatility to fill in at other
The central midfield position will be one of the Golden
Eagles’ strongest and deepest, anchored by 2010 All-OVC
second team selection Kerri Reid. Reid scored two goals and
delivered three assists a season ago while seeing more minutes than
anyone on the team.
With Tech’s depth in the midfield this season, however,
Brizard says he hopes to be able to give Reid more frequent
“She had to play a lot of minutes last year, and we hope
to be able to give her more of a break this season,” he says.
“We need her to sustain her competitive spirit and energy
throughout the season.”
Sophomore Shannon Rountree and junior Jacquie Watkins return and
will join Reid as the squad’s featured attacking midfielders.
The Golden Eagles will look to Watkins to follow up on a strong
2010 season in which she scored a goal and contributed two assists.
Rountree is known for her intensity and high-energy attitude.
On the wings, Tech will look to juniors Kris Cambron and Sarah
Gawthrop, both of whom contributed two goals apiece last
Gawthrop expects to settle back in to her natural wing position
this season after being somewhat of a positional journeywoman in
2010 due to injuries. Cambron is fresh off a summer in which she
played with Cincinnati’s Hammer FC of the Women’s
Premier Soccer League.
Junior Emily Homan is also expected to contribute at the wing
after a knee injury forced her to take a medical redshirt in
Midfield will be the area of most opportunity for Tech’s
nine incoming freshmen this season. Brizard expects Paige Himebaugh
and Chelsea Ladd to compete for a holding mid position while Kelsey
McGohan should provide quality minutes as an attacking
Sophomore Jessica Wilson and incoming freshman Katie Phillips
bring added depth to the midfield.
The Golden Eagles will have two leaders in the backfield in
junior Leigh Heffner, who joined Reid as an All-OVC second team
selection last season, and Lindsey Reed, the team’s only
“We’re going to look to them to anchor our
defense,” Brizard said. “They are both great kids off
the field, and they make us more experienced in the back than we
are at some of other positions.”
Sophomore Taylor Hicks, a converted forward, will play left back
after stepping into the position and performing well a season
At right back, Tech will look to junior Julie Thompson, who
played in 13 of 17 games last season despite battling an ankle
injury. This year, Brizard wants Thompson to return to form and
solidify herself in the right back position.
Incoming freshmen Courtney Dedrick, Hayley Morton and Brooklyn
Kimball will also be expected to contribute minutes on the back
As a freshman in 2010, Becca Toler quickly emerged as the Golden
Eagles’ starting goalkeeper. Coming off a strong summer of
training that included a successful tryout with the USA Deaf Soccer
Women’s team, she will be Tech’s go-to athlete in the
net once again this season.
She allowed 23 goals in nearly 1,200 minutes last fall and saved
75.8 percent of shots while pitching two shutouts. When Toler was
in net, Tech posted a 4-7-1 record compared to an 0-4 mark when she
did not play.