By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – A defensive battle shifted in the Tennessee Tech soccer team's direction, as the Golden Eagles collected a second-half score en route to a 1-0 victory at Jacksonville State. Tech (4-4-0, 1-1-0) smacks an exclamation point at the end of a season-long, four-match road trip, securing its first OVC win in the process and breaking a three-match losing streak as well.
Freshman Kendall Powell found a way to break the scoreless knot early in the second half, knocking one off her head and into the back of the net in the 53rd minute to jump the Golden Eagles on top. The Cookeville native received a serve from junior Tina Marolt, before Powell headed one over the try of JSU's Caroline Robinson for the winner. Powell becomes the first Golden Eagle with two goals this season, while Marolt's second-assist is also a club-best.
"I'm definitely happy with today's result and am proud of our team and the resiliency we showed this afternoon," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "After coming off a tough game at SEMO where we were disappointed because we felt we played pretty well and did what we needed to do to get a win, I was excited to see our team bounce back in what was also a tough few days of travel. We knew there was some pressure on us today, but everyone contributed and there was a great energy from our entire team."
"As far as the goal is concerned, it was a great serve by Tina and then KP came in and made just a great, physical play for us," Springthorpe continued. "It was a 50-50 ball with the goalkeeper, and there was a major collision, but Kendall found a way to head it into the back of the net."
The Tech defense was its reliable self yet again, holding the Gamecocks (3-5-2, 0-2-0) to just four shots on-goal for the squad's fourth shutout this season. TTU also makes it six of eight matches this year in which the opponent has been blanked in regulation, with an own goal at Alabama on Sept. 10 serving as one of the two occasions a club has scored against Tech in the first 90 minutes.
Junior Kari Naerdemann halted all four Jacksonville State shots that came her way, as the two-time OVC Player of the Year carded her 22nd career shutout. Across the way, Caroline Robinson stopped three of Tech's four attempts.
The Golden Eagles held a narrow edge in the shot department, behind a 9-8 advantage. Powell and sophomore Nora Vicsek each had a pair to lead the Tech charge. Sophomore Rachel Blanding notched four attempts to pace the JSU attack.
The Golden Eagles will return home for the first time in nearly three weeks, as TTU welcomes in Murray State Thursday night at Tech Soccer Field. The Racers, the preseason No. 1 team in the conference, won their first and only OVC match of the season, a 1-0 overtime win at Morehead State on Sept. 14. First kick is slated for 7 p.m. CT.
"Once again, I'm proud of our team's effort and this was a great overall win," Springthorpe said. "It's nice to see us get our first OVC win and to do it on the road. Now we have to prepare for a short week with a good Murray State team coming in Thursday night."
Admission to all Tech regular season home matches is free of charge.
Photo by Tony Marable