By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was better late than never.
After peppering the Morehead State goal with 12 corner kicks and plenty of offensive opportunities, it took awhile for the Tennessee Tech soccer team to wear down the visiting Eagles like a prize fighter.
Powell drove the ball to the left corner past a diving Michelle Washburn, giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 victory on Friday at the Tech Soccer Field.
"I just knew I had to get behind it," Powell said. "I was actually not in the path – I had to jump back for it. I knew I just had to get behind it and give it a little tap and it went in."
And while it took a while to see that lone score, it was still a sigh of relief for Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe.
"We've had plenty of nevers," Springthorpe said. "We found a way to get a goal. It was a great through ball with a fantastic in-line run. We had the cross and KP put it on. I'm really happy – we played well today. Overall, I'm happy with the effort and the amount of opportunities we had. We defended well enough, so the quality of our game was good and I'm glad we were able to come out with the win."
The Golden Eagles (7-4-3, 4-1-3 Ohio Valley Conference) outshot Morehead State 18-5, including 10-2 on-goal. On corner kicks, Tech had 12 to MSU's four.
"We had a lot of good looks, too," Springthorpe said. "Unfortunately, it's been something that we've been really good at in the past and we're trying to find one. We'll just keep plugging away and finding ways to get one. We'll find one at the corner."
Needless to say, Tech had plenty of opportunities and made Washburn work for her nine saves.
"She was making it tough on us," Powell said. "She was coming out, she was taking out through balls. It was tough."
Either way, the goal was going to come eventually as Morehead State was worn down.
"We hoped so," Springthorpe said. "That was what we said to them at halftime. We didn't play poorly. We did some great things. We were a little impatient at times. I thought, in the second half, that we did a better job of not poking balls and get a little more creative in the attack. Again, it's a credit to the team. We found a way to get a good goal and a nice finish."
Tech almost scored earlier in the contest on an Owens corner with 12:23 remaining in the contest. The ball sailed into Washburn's hands, but she lost control of it, then recovered it before it passed in.
Powell, a freshman on the squad, has flourished in her role this season as she collected her third goal of the campaign.
"Kendall hunts for the ball," Springthorpe said. "She goes and finds those opportunities. She has had some quality goals – she had the winner today, she had the winner against Jacksonville State and there was another one early on into the season. She's done a great job for us."
Powell added, "I'm having a great time. It's really a team effort – everyone's helping me out. I'm getting some great balls, and hopefully I'm doing the same for my teammates."
Springthorpe was complimentary of the team's approach in collecting the win.
"Any time you're in a conference match and the teams are trying to find ways to get into the top eight, it's going to be a battle," Springthorpe said. "Morehead played well today. They brought a lot of energy and they made it tough, but I'm happy we came out with the win. It was an entire team effort. We've got great players who don't get the opportunities to play, but they brought a lot of energy and positivity on the sidelines. We need every player to be involved, so it was a great team win for us today."
Tech controlled possession and kept the ball in the Eagle zone for most of the contest, leaving Morehead State (3-10-1, 2-4-1 OVC) without a shot in the first 45 minutes. MSU was able to put some offense together late, claiming five shots – two on-goal – in the second half.
Naerdemann saved two shots in the contest, and Owens was able to deflect a late Morehead scoring opportunity just before time expired.
Tech returns to action on Sunday as it hosts Eastern Kentucky at 1 p.m.
"They're undefeated (as of the completion of our Friday game)," Springthorpe said. "We're two very similar teams in how we play and how we line up formation-wise. It'll be a good game."
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information