By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team saw its bid at an upset just slip by the wayside Friday evening, as the Golden Eagles managed to get its season-opening clash at Vanderbilt into overtime, but ultimately fell 1-0 in the early stages of the extra session.
Vanderbilt's Jackie Welch broke the scoreless deadlock three seconds into the 93rd minute, using a Madison Elwell left-footed ball, over the top of the weak side that was headed into the back of the net for the game-winner. Elwell was credited with the assist on the play.
Tech's tightly contested tilt with the Commodores marked the first time in program history that the Golden Eagles took an SEC school to overtime. Tech goes to 1-12 all time against the Southeastern Conference, winning its previous match before Friday evening, a 2-1 victory over Alabama on Aug. 30, 2015.
"I'm extremely happy and proud of the effort of our team and the way we played this evening," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "We competed all evening and I thought our players did a great job of executing all night long. I felt like we frustrated Vanderbilt and although the end result is disappointing, I'm happy with what our team did tonight. Congratulations have to go to Vanderbilt, the coaching staff and the players. They are a great team and overall it was a well played match."
The Commodore score was just the second shot on-goal of the match, as the Tech defense limited Vanderbilt (1-0-0) to only an 82nd minute try by Leila Azari that was gobbled up by Kari Naerdemann.
Tech (0-0-1) nearly capitalized on its chances, with four of the club's five shots coming on-goal. Junior Tina Marolt, in her first match in purple and gold, paced TTU with three shots, two of which were on-point. Senior Cassidy Ortman and junior Molly Kafader were responsible for the other two shots on-goal.
The Golden Eagles put the clamps down defensively early on, holding the Dores to just three first-half shots. Vanderbilt collected seven shots in the second stanza, before its only attempt in overtime split the pipes.
"The first half was definitely a display of quality soccer on our part," Springthorpe noted. "There was a little more pressure on us in the second, especially playing an opponent of Vanderbilt's quality, and we were a little more fatigued as well. In the end, tonight was a good starting point for our season as we look to continue to get better heading into our conference season in mid-September."
Two-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year, Kari Naerdemann, was forced into making just one save in the match. The Commodore tandem of Kaitlyn Fahrmer and Lauren Demarchi teamed up for four halts in the tilt, with Demarchi leading the charge behind three second-half stops.
The Golden Eagles will close out their season-opening road trip Sunday evening, heading to East Tennessee State for a 6 p.m. CT showdown with the Buccaneers.
Photo by Jim Dillon