By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team ensured that its 2017 home opener would be a success Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles used a late goal and another stout defensive effort to push past Western Carolina, 1-0.
Sophomore Dani Shartouny buried an attempt in the 72nd minute for the tilt's lone score, while junior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann and the rest of the Tech defense came up big to secure the club's second-consecutive shutout. The Golden Eagles (2-1-0) also run their win streak to two-straight, and take down the Catamounts (1-2-0) for the first time since 2000, snapping a four-match losing streak against WCU.
Tech has now won seven in a row in Cookeville dating back to last September.
"First off, we are definitely excited to win our first regular season home game of the year, especially against a team we have struggled with the last couple of years in Western Carolina," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "We expected that it was going to be a hard fought battle with some physicality and fouls in the game. I'm happy with our team's response throughout the afternoon and ability to battle and grind out there."
Scoreless just over the midway point of the second half, freshman Kendall Powell played a pivotal role in jump starting the Golden Eagle offense. Playing in her first collegiate match at Tech Soccer Field, the Cookeville native took a through ball into the box and fended off both a defender and WCU goalkeeper Natalia Icen, before ultimately knocking one in the direction of a streaking Dani Shartouny, who took care of the rest. Powell tallied her first career assist on the play, while Shatrouny's blast that split the back of the net was her first goal of the season, and fourth in the Tech tenure of the 5-foot-4 sophomore.
"It was just a great through ball, and then you have KP battling and scrapping to keep the play alive and in the middle of the goal," Springthorpe said, recalling the game-winning score. "Then you have Dani coming in and doing what she seems to always do to put one in the back of the net and pick up the pieces."
Kari Naerdemann made the slim lead stand up on her to way her 20th career shutout, further extending her program record. The Herne, Germany collected five saves on the afternoon, highlighted by a pair of outstanding stops that kept the Catamounts off the board.
In the 32nd minute with the match squared at 0-0, WCU's Emily Zipay found herself point blank with Naerdemann, only to have her rocket smoke off the hands of the 5-foot-9 keeper to keep the shutout preserved. Then with Tech clinging to a 1-0 edge in the 79th minute, another key Naerdemann halt on a free kick through traffic saved the day yet again.
"Kari had a great day, especially with those two key saves," Springthorpe noted. "Ultimately we rely on Kari a lot and she came through in a number of ways this afternoon. She had great distribution, knocked some really long balls for us and just made some really good choices out there. She's always a huge part of our success and today was certainly the case as well."
Tech won the shot battle, 15-9, with six different Golden Eagles tabbing at least a pair. Junior Tina Marolt paced the club for the second time in three matches behind four shots. Senior Karigan Owens notched three attempts, while Dani Shartouny, junior Mayra Tarraga Manzanal, sophomore Nora Vicsek and Kendall Powell each had two.
Red-shirt senior Kasey Cooke led the Catamounts with two shots. WCU used a pair of goalkeepers in the match, as red-shirt sophomore Jacquelyn Gnassi blanked the Golden Eagles in the first half behind one save, before freshman Natalia Icen took over and made three second-half stops.
TTU will remain at home for the next two matches. The Golden Eagles will play host to Middle Tennessee on Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. CT, before welcoming Georgia State to Cookeville on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information