By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – A year after setting the school record with 11 shutouts, the Tennessee Tech soccer team tallied its first blanking in just the second match of the season, as the Golden Eagles captured a 1-0 win at East Tennessee State Sunday evening. Junior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann collected eight saves, while a Nora Vicsek goal in the 48th minute proved to be the difference in TTU's first victory of the year.
Tech's win over ETSU, the Southern Conference's preseason No. 2, marked the first victory over the Buccaneers (1-1-0) since 2013. The Golden Eagles had gone 0-2-1 in the last three meetings with their in-state counterparts.
Vicsek's game-winner, already her fifth in only a year and change for the sophomore, was part of a sturdy offensive attack that featured 23 Golden Eagle shots, a resilient performance after notching only five attempts in Friday night's season opener at Vanderbilt. Tech (1-1-0) eclipsed the 20-shot plateau twice in 21 matches in 2016.
"I'm excited and happy for our team to get our first win of the season, especially against a quality opponent in ETSU," Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "The last couple of years we've battled them tough, but haven't been able to find a way to win, so to get one on their home field with a shutout is an accomplishment for our program."
After the scoreboard was kept dim with a 0-0 deadlock at the half, Tech wasted no time in setting the tone in the second stanza. A shade over two and a half minutes into the period, freshman Viviana Lomeli slid along the sideline to somehow keep a through ball in play, before connecting with Viscek along the corner of the right side of the box. After cradling the ball with her back to the net, Vicsek whipped around and beamed one inside the left post that illuminated the back of the net for TTU's first score of the year. Lomeli earned her first career assist on the aggressive, athletic play that lit the way for Vicsek.
The goal was one of 11 shots on-goal for Tech, casting a shadow over ETSU's eight shots on-point. Lomeli, Cassidy Ortman and Dani Shartouny led the charge with a team-best two shots on-goal each, while Shartouny's five shots were the most in the match.
Kari Naerdemann and the rest of the Tech defense came up big in turning off the lights on ETSU's attack, with Naerdemann blocking off eight Buccaneer tries en route to her 19th career shutout, further extending the Herne, Germany native's program record.
"Kari played great tonight, but a lot of the credit has to go to the rest of our team," Springthorpe said. "Even know there were a lot of shots, we held firm and did what we needed to do, and the experience we have on our back line showed tonight. We pride ourselves on what we can do defensively, so we are excited to be able to get a shutout and end the road trip this way."
ETSU junior goalkeeper Lee Ann Cutshall secured 10 saves, a bright spot for the Bucs, who suffered their first loss of the season after registering an 8-0 win over South Carolina State Friday night. Juniors Eleonora Goldoni and Pauline Vienne led the team with four shots apiece. The Buccaneers took 14 shots in the match.
Tech will now set its sights on the home opener, set for Sunday, Aug. 27 against Western Carolina. First kick is slated for a 1 p.m. CT.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information