By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Two unanswered Eastern Illinois goals spoiled the Tennessee Tech soccer team's season finale and ultimately prevented the Golden Eagles from securing a berth in the OVC Tournament.
Trailing 1-0 late in the first half, the Panthers provided the equalizer on a Haylee Renick goal, before Eva Munoz put her club ahead with a score just over five minutes into the second stanza that proved to be the game winner. The 2-1 loss eliminates the Golden Eagles (7-8-2, 3-5-2 OVC) from postseason contention and marks the first time in three years that an OVC road team won a match in Cookeville, breaking a TTU 16-match conference unbeaten streak at home that has featured 14 wins and two draws over a stretch that dates back to October, 2015.
Freshman Cassidy Bereda collected her first career goal that unwrapped the scoring in the 30th minute. Rachel Blow set up Bereda's strike with a corner kick that saw Blow nearly put it into the back of the net herself, but after a Sara Teteak deflection on a save, Bereda buried it between the pipes to put the Golden Eagles on top 1-0.
Blow was credited with an assist on the play, the final of a team-best six assists in her junior campaign, including three in the final weekend of the regular season after notching two Friday night against SIUE.
15 minutes later, Eastern Illinois (6-7-5, 4-3-3 OVC) answered with a score of its own, courtesy of a Haylee Renick header. Lindsey Carlson soared a cross into the box that ended up off the lid of Renick and into the back of the net. Carlson earned an assist on the equalizer.
A shade over five minutes into the second half, Eva Munoz whistled one home to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead. Munoz received a pass from Ixtaso Aguero on the left side of the box, before splitting the pipes toward the upper right corner of the net for the go-ahead goal.
Trailing 2-1, the Golden Eagles were relentless with their offensive pressure, peppering seven shots on-goal in the second half that were all saved by Sara Teteak. In total, the Eastern Illinois goalkeeper registered 12 saves, as the Golden Eagles ended up with a season-high 13 shots on-goal.
Overall, Tech piled up a season-high 23 shots, nine more than the next closest total in any match this season. Sophomore Kendall Powell paved the way with six attempts, while Nora Viscek tabbed five tries. Lexi Ketterhagen paced the EIU side with three shots.
Kari Naerdemann recorded three saves in her final action between the pipes in her Tech tenure, capping off an illustrious career as one of the most decorated Golden Eagles in program history. The only player in league history to win the OVC Defensive Player of the Year honor three different times, Naerdemann leaves a lasting imprint on the TTU and OVC record books as the conference's career leader with 34 shutouts and the Golden Eagle all-time career leader with 35 victories.
Prior to the start of the contest, Tech bid farewell to its senior class of Molly Kafader, Courtney Manning, Tina Marolt, Kari Naerdemann and Mayra Tarraga Manzanal with a special pre-match ceremony honoring the careers of each Golden Eagle.
Photos by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information