Soccer team hosts in-state rival MTSU, visits Western Carolina

Soccer team hosts in-state rival MTSU, visits Western Carolina

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – As the Tennessee Tech soccer team creeps closer to its Ohio Valley Conference schedule, the last thing on the team's mind is just that. The Golden Eagles know they can't afford to look past this weekend's matches against Middle Tennessee and Western Carolina.

Tech will open the weekend with its third home match of the season by welcoming in-state rival Middle Tennessee State University. The match is slated with a 3 p.m. CT starting time on Friday, September 7.

The Blue Raiders, former members of the OVC and current Sun Belt members, bring an interesting match-up to the table after beating East Tennessee State 7-1 last weekend. ETSU defeated the Golden Eagles in Cookeville 2-0 in Tech's home opener.

Following the home match, the Golden Eagles will travel back to North Carolina, where they have already played two matches this season, for a contest against the Catamounts of Western Carolina. With a 1 p.m. match-up on Sunday, Tech will look to wrap of the second of three remaining non-OVC contests on a high note.

"Hopefully we can come out of the weekend with two wins," said head coach Daniel Brizard. "It would be nice to beat an in-state rival and then kind of a border rival."

The Golden Eagles are coming off a weekend where they earned a 1-1 record with the victory over Northern Kentucky on their own turf. Tech defeated the Norse 3-2 behind the legs of junior forward Ellie Iaciofano and senior midfielder Sarah Gawthrop.

Iaciofano, who finished with two goals in the match, including the game-winner, leads the Golden Eagles with three goals and seven points this season. Gawthrop netted her first goal of the season after putting a perfect bend on a corner-kick, squeaking the goal in just over the goalkeeper's outstretched hands.

Tech followed up its first home win of 2012 with a very strong performance against #10 ranked Missouri. The Golden Eagles, who ultimately lost the match 2-0, were just the second team of the season to hold Mizzou to two or fewer goals. The only other team to accomplish the feat, UC Santa Barbara, was also defeated 2-0. Other teams that couldn't hold the Tiger attack back included Memphis, Arizona State, and #15 California.

While the offense was the story of Friday's win over NKU, amassing 23 shots and three goals in the season's best offensive performance, it was Tech's defense that made the noise against a potent Missouri offense. The Golden Eagles held the Tigers to just nine shots-on-goal despite 34 shot attempts throughout the match.

Freshman goalkeeper Jordan Brown added seven saves to the Tech effort; the second most of any opponent the Tigers have faced this season.

"I think if we play the way we did against Mizzou," said Brizard, "even though that was a loss, I think we can beat anyone that is left on our schedule. We just have to pick up our level and play and not worry about what the other two teams are doing."

Scouting Middle Tennessee
- The Blue Raiders will take on the Golden Eagles following a 1-1 weekend. MTSU fell 2-0 to Vanderbilt before running all over ETSU with a 7-1 win.
- Middle Tennessee owns a 3-2 record on the season, including a 2-0 win over fellow OVC foe Jacksonville State.
- The Golden Eagles are 2-12 all-time against the Blue Raiders following last season's 2-0 defeat in Murfreesboro.
- Senior midfielder Paige Goeglein leads MTSU in both goals (four) and points (10) on the 2012 season.

Daniel Brizard on the Blue Raiders:

"On Friday we have former OVC opponent MTSU. That's an in-state rivalry and it's as good as it gets. We want to beat them with a passion and I think they want to beat us with a passion. It's a good game no matter when we play it, where we play it, spring or fall, home or away. It's going to be a battle. We expect a really good game from them."

"The girls are always pumped for the game, sometimes more so than our conference games just because it's MTSU. It's an hour down the road. We battle for some of the same players sometimes and we try to get our school over theirs. I think that goes for any sport here whether it's basketball, softball, or any of our other sports."

Scouting Western Carolina
- The Catamounts are coming off a 1-0 weekend after taking down Albany at home 3-1.
- WCU sits at 2-2 on during its 2012 campaign with an impressive 2-1 loss to #20 West Virginia.
- Western Carolina and Tech have met three times with WCU leading the series 2-1. The last meeting, in 2001, ended with a 3-0 Western Carolina victory in Cullowhee.
- Leading the Catamounts in both goals (two) and points (four) is red-shirt freshman midfielder Kimberly Sullivan.

Daniel Brizard on the Catamounts:

"Western Carolina is a quality squad. We're going up to Cullowhee, N.C. to play them so it will be on their home turf. They're always strong. I think he [head coach Chad Miler] has another good team going this year and it will be another battle against an OVC-level opponent. We'll have to bring our A-game."