Golden Eagles looking to put offense with defense

Tech hits road for third consecutive weekend

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Going into road matches at Longwood and Radford this weekend, Tennessee Tech hopes it can continue its recent strong defensive performance while adding a finishing touch offensively.

The Golden Eagles were suffocating last weekend, allowing just one goal over 200 minutes of soccer against strong WAC competition, Louisiana Tech (4-1-2) and New Mexico State (4-2), at the Adidas Gamecock Soccer Classic in Jacksonville, Ala.

For those performances, head coach Daniel Brizard credited his back four of Taylor Hicks, Lindsey Reed, Leigh Heffner and Julie Thompson.

“They’ve come together as a back four fantastically,” Brizard said. “Defensively, I think we’re holding our own, and I think it’s going to be hard to break us down in the back. As a team, I think we could defend a little better, but our back four is doing what’s asked of them, and I think some of our best attacks are coming from our outside backs also.”

As impressive as the Golden Eagles were defensively, they struggled offensively and were shut out in both matches.

Brizard says his team is getting its chances, and simply needs to finish.

“We’re getting shots, we just need to be able to finish,” said the second-year head coach. “Coming from last year to this year, our attacking has increased, we’re just not able to finish — too many shots into the goalkeeper’s hands or over the frame. It’s coming. I think we’re going to have a game where we break out.”

The Golden Eagles hope that game comes this weekend when they play on the road for the third consecutive weekend, this time making the seven-plus-hour trip to battle Longwood at 6 p.m. Friday before facing Radford at 1 p.m. Sunday.

GOLDEN EAGLE NOTES

-At 2-3-1, Tennessee Tech is off to its best start to a season since 2005, when head coach Carrie Proost’s squad opened at 2-3.

-After surrendering five goals over a two-match season-opening homestand on Aug. 19-21, Tennessee Tech has not allowed an opponent to score more than one goal in a match. The Golden Eagles earned their first shutout of the season on Friday against Louisiana Tech.

-Three Golden Eagles have played every minute in each match so far this season. Senior defender Lindsey Reed, sophomore defender Taylor Hicks and goalkeeper Becca Toler have each netted 560 minutes of action thus far in 2011.

-Reed earned the team’s second-consecutive OVC weekly honor on Tuesday, being named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week for her work against Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State.

SCOUTING LONGWOOD

-Longwood is 1-3-2 on the season and coming off three consecutive matches which have gone to double-overtime. The Lancers have lost two of those matches and salvaged a tie in another.

-Tennessee Tech and Longwood have one common opponent in East Tennessee State. The Golden Eagles defeated ETSU 2-1 on Aug. 26 while the Lancers fell to the Buccaneers 2-1 in double overtime on Sept. 2.

-The Lancers are one of 10 Division I women’s soccer programs with no conference affiliation. Longwood recently made the transition from Division II in 2007.

-Tech is 0-1 all-time against Longwood. The only previous meeting between the two schools resulted in a 2-0 Longwood victory in Cookeville on Oct. 8, 2009.

-Longwood has struggled to score this season, netting only four goals in six games, but has also held opponents to just five goals.

-Junior midfielder Nikki Glisson is the Lancers’ points leader, coming in with four. She has scored two goals on the season. Junior goalkeeper Kyra Byron has a goals-allowed average of 0.74 and a save percentage of .821.

SCOUTING RADFORD

-Radford is 3-2 overall and is coming off a weather-shortened 4-0 win over Alabama A&M on Sept. 2.

- Radford and Tennessee Tech also have one common opponent in East Tennessee State. The Golden Eagles beat ETSU 2-1 on Aug. 26 while the Highlanders fell to the Buccaneers 1-0 on Aug. 28 in Radford.

- Radford leads the Big South Conference in four statistical categories: shots (15.8 per game), points (7.8 per game), goals (2.8 per game), and goals-against average (1.05).

- Tech is 3-4 all-time against Radford with the last meeting between the two schools resulting in a 1-0 Radford win in overtime in Cookeville on Sept. 25, 2010.

- Julie Ruh’e is Radford’s offensive leader, having accumulated eight points, scoring three goals and contributing two assists. The Highlanders have used three goalkeepers on the season.