COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Only six days after defeating Tennessee
Wesleyan 8-0 in a preseason exhibition, the Tennessee Tech soccer
team will open its regular season Friday when it hosts the
Buccaneers of East Tennessee State.
The Golden Eagles will begin their third season under head coach
Brizard with a 3 p.m. contest at the Tech Soccer Field. ETSU
will look to make up for it’s early home loss to Tech last
“ETSU is an experienced team,” said Brizard.
“They’re going to want to come here and get revenge. We
went up there last year and won by a narrow margin. We held on and
probably escaped with the win. ETSU is a great team and has a great
coach. He’ll do wonders with them no matter what the quality
of players he has.”
The team will follow up Friday’s home match with a trip
south for a road match-up against UT-Chattanooga on Sunday at 12
“The two teams we play this weekend are comparable to our
Ohio Valley Conference opponents," Brizard said. "It will be a good
early-season test to see where we stand before we reach our OVC
schedule. They’re both in-state rivals, so that means
something also. UTC might be a little more of a rival for us since
they are closer and we have some girls from the Chattanooga area.
Both will be great games this weekend. I expect close games and its
soccer. It could go either way, but hopefully it will go our way in
Tech returns eight seniors this season, the largest class in
program history, and will rely heavily on the experience of the
veterans throughout the year. The senior class boasts more
than 400 games of experience and seven of the eight have playd at
least 54 games. That much prior playing time will be a key to the
success of the Golden Eagles this season.
“I think with the seniors, if they do well, we’ll do
well," Brizard said. "If they do poorly, we’ll do poorly. I
think it’s such a large class and they’ve got the
experience. They are a great group of kids. A lot of our season is
going to revolve around just what they bring to the game and to
what they want to do as a whole. At any given time, six to seven of
them could be out on the field at the same time. When you only play
11 players, that’s a good chunk of the field with experience.
I think it’s going to be fun for them and hopefully they can
go out an leave a legacy of success and have fun while doing
The senior-laden team boasts a fantastic midfield with returning
starters and seniors Kris Cambron, Sarah
Gawthrop, Kerri Reid, and Jacquie
Watkins. Cambron and Gawthrop act as an impressive set of
bookends to the strong line and are expected to provide a strong
offensive attack this season.
Cambron, a former Ohio Valley Conference first teamer and
co-freshman of the year, has recorded eight goals and seven assists
during her career at Tech and will look to add to that total in
2012. Gawthrop, the team’s primary corner kicker, is looking
to show off the speed that has led her teammates to dub her
The middle of the midfield is run by long-time leaders Reid and
Watkins. The general of the midfield, Reid has started every game
she has played as a Golden Eagle and brings such a fighter’s
mentality to the game that it has Brizard comparing her to Micky
Ward from the Fighter. Watkins, the ying to Reid’s yang,
provides the team with a tireless work ethic and a ‘do
anything to win’ mentality that has been contagious
throughout the team during the preseason. All four girls will be
called on to carry a large work load during the season.
Sweeping up the remains behind the midfield are defenders Leigh
Heffner, Julie Thompson, and Alex Stevenson. Stevenson
returns to the team after a year away from soccer and will look to
provide some veteran leadership to the young class of newcomers and
Twice named to All-OVC teams, the highly decorated Heffner will
continue to be a mainstay on the back line for the Golden Eagles.
Her ability to remain calm and focused at all times will be a huge
advantage for the team this season as they look to build off an
exhibition win that saw only three shots allowed the entire
For the fourth straight year, Thompson will provide consistency
and a strong work ethic for the back line for Tech. She recorded
more than 1,700 minutes of play last season and played all 90
minutes of nearly every game in 2011. The coaching staff is
expecting a breakout year for the senior from Knoxville.
Forward Andrea Meloff will play a
vital role for the Golden Eagles up front this year. She already
ranks fifth on the Tennessee Tech All-Time list for goals scored
with 15 in her career. Meloff will be counted on to get the ball
into the back of the net this season by using her ability to create
shots from nothing and her crafty style of play.
Also playing a key to the 2012 campaign will be the play of
Tech’s two freshman goalkeepers. Already being dubbed
“Hope Duo,” the nickname for freshmen Allison Barlow and
couldn’t have more meaning for the Golden Eagles hopes this
season. Both players have shown signs of excellence this preseason,
while also making key improvements in separate training sessions
“It’s been fantastic to have two goalkeepers that
are competing, that want to be here, and that want tot take their
game to next level," Brizard said. "I think the players trust them.
They love the competitiveness that they show at practice and in
training. I think they’re going to be a big part of the
season. With goaltending, it’s always nice to have a solid
goalkeeper that we aren’t second-guessing. In our warm-up
match, they both played well. I think it’s going to be
reassuring this whole season and I think they’ll play a big
part of our success.”
The team boasts a strong depth chart with returning juniors Shannon Rountree, Emily
Homan, Taylor Hicks, Jessica
Wilson, and Ellie Iaciofano. All five
girls are expected to crack the rotation on a regular basis and
provide some much needed minutes throughout the season. All are
capable of great play and Iaciofano will be called on often to
provide strong offensive stability.
Not to be forgotten, the Tech soccer team welcomes freshman Taylor Blazei, Mackenzie Miller,
and Taylor Sutton. With
the capability of playing multiple positions, the freshmen will
look to add minutes wherever they can and provide a spark of youth
to the Golden Eagle roster.
Scouting the ETSU Buccaneers
The Bucs are coming off a successful season, finishing second in
the Atlantic-Sun Conference after racking up a 7-1-1 conference
record. They finished the season 12-5-1 while making it to the
semifinals of the Atlantic-Sun conference playoffs.
ETSU will look to replace over half of its offense after
graduating its top two scorers from 2011. The team returns two
seniors while bringing in a freshman class of seven.
The preseason has been kind to the Buccaneers as its boasts a
1-0-1 record after exhibition matches against VMI and Appalachian
The Golden Eagles are 4-3-3 all time against ETSU with the most
recent meeting coming last season. Tech eked out a 2-1 victory in
2011 with Iaciofano knocking in a deflection in the 64th
Scouting the Chattanooga Mocs
Chattanooga finished a tough year in the Southern Conference
with a 1-9-1 record in conference play. They managed a 6-10-2
record overall in 2011, including a 2-1 victory over Tech in its
While it boasts a senior class of five, Chattanooga welcomes a
massive freshman class to the 2012 season. Ten newcomers are
expected to compete right away for starting roles within the roster
and improve the depth for the team.
With no exhibition matches on the schedule, the Mocs will open
the season with a three-game home stand, beginning with TTU. The
Golden Eagles are 4-10-0 all time against Chattanooga.