By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With a pair of matches already under its belt, the Tennessee Tech soccer team is chomping at the bit for its 2017 home opener, with the Golden Eagles ready to welcome Western Carolina to Cookeville for a Sunday matinee at Tech Soccer Field. First kick is slated for 1 p.m. CT.
Sunday's match will be broadcast live on the Golden Eagle Sports Network via the Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network. Click here to watch.
TTU (1-1-0) enjoyed a wealth of success in its own backyard a season ago, rolling out an eye-popping 8-1-1 record in its 10 matches in Cookeville. This year's home opener comes on the heels of a split in the club's season-opening road trip across the Volunteer State, first falling in a hard-fought overtime affair at Vanderbilt, before bouncing back to secure a 1-0 win at East Tennessee State Sunday evening.
Tech's nod over the Buccaneers marked the first victory over its in-state counterparts since 2013, as the Golden Eagles had posted a 0-2-1 record in the previous three meetings with ETSU prior to Sunday's road triumph. A year after setting the school record with 11 shutouts, TTU collected its first blanking of 2017, thanks in large part to junior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann eight saves, tied for the fourth most in her collegiate career.
The two-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year now has 19 career shutouts, further extending her program record. For her efforts, Naredmann took home the year's first OVC Goalkeeper of the Week accolade, the fourth such award in just over two years between the pipes for the Herne, Germany native.
Offensively, Tech proved to be relentless en route to 23 total shots, already half way to last year's total of two 20-shot efforts. 11 of Sunday's attempts were on-goal, including Nora Vicsek's 48th minute drive that found the back of the net for the tilt's lone score. Vicsek now has five career game-winning goals, putting the 5-foot-6 sophomore in a tie for third most in program history, despite having played for just over a year.
Freshman Viviana Lomeli registered her first career assist on the winner, setting up Viscek on an aggressive, athletic play that first saw the Jalisco, Mexico native slide along the sideline to somehow keep a through ball in play, before connecting with her fellow purple and gold counterpart.
Six different Golden Eagles have played in all 182 minutes on the season, with Lauren Brewer, Mary Francis Hoots, Tina Marolt, Kari Naerdemann and Karigan Owens all not leaving the pitch in the first two matches.
Before coming to Cookeville for Sunday's tilt, Western Carolina will take aim at Belmont Friday night in the second of three-straight matches against schools from the OVC. The Catamounts (1-0-0) kicked off the season with a 3-1 home win over Morehead State on Aug. 18, scoring three unanswered after the Eagles stuck for one in the 31st minute.
Juniors Sayres McKenna and Megan McCallister each tallied a goal and an assist in the action, while sophomore Emily Threatt was responsible for the other Catamount score. McKenna and redshirt senior Kasey Cooke led last year's goal-scoring charge for WCU, each peppering the back of the net six times in 2016. McKenna also boasted a club-best six assists and a squad-leading 18 points.
Western Carolina has seized five of the six all-time meetings with the Golden Eagles, including a 1-0 double-overtime victory in last year's get together in Cullowhee, N.C.
Admission to all Tech home regular season matches is free of charge.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information