By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team checked the tie column for the first time this season, as 110 minutes were ultimately not enough to decide a winner in a scoreless battle with Murray State Thursday night at Tech Soccer Field. The Golden Eagles became just the fourth OVC team to force a tie with the Racers in the last 23 conference matches dating back to 2014. MSU (6-1-1, 1-0-1) has won the other 19 league affairs.
TTU's blanking is also its league-leading fifth shutout of the season, while Thursday's tilt marked the seventh time in nine matches this year in which Tech (4-4-1, 1-1-1) has kept an opponent scoreless through regulation.
"That's a good quality team over there and you can see that there's a reason why they only have one loss all year," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "They have a potent attack that you have to deal with, but I give a lot of credit to our team. I thought we did a really good job against their attacking front line and defended well. I was also pleased with the way we transitioned tonight."
"Points are important, especially in conference play," Springthorpe continued."I told our team anytime we can get a point in conference, it can help out in the end. We have seven games to go and every point is going to matter. I'm happy with the effort we gave tonight."
Kari Naerdemann made five saves en route to her fifth shutout of the 2017 campaign, stopping three attempts by senior Harriet Withers. The OVC's leading scorer, with eight goals this season, led all players in the match with five shots and three shots on-goal.
In the 19th minute, Withers found herself alone with just Naerdemann to beat, but a halt by the two-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year kept the match scoreless. In the 59th minute, Naredmeann was at it again with an athletic, reactionary play that saw the Herne, Germany native stick her leg out on another Withers try to keep the contest preserved at 0-0.
Tech mirrored Murray State's five shots on-goal with five of its own, none more serious of a threat than a Viviana Lomeli attempt in the 35th minute. Playing in her first match since Aug.20, the Jalisco, Mexico native received a brilliant ball from Karigan Owens off a free kick, leading to a Lomeli diving header that was secured on a dive by Alex Steigerwald.
Steigerwald collected five saves in the match.
"I think if you were to honestly look at the game as a whole, the result of a tie makes sense," Springthorpe said. "Both teams played a hard fought, physical kind of game. I think we both played well enough to win, and we both had chances, but in the end it was just two really good teams battling out there."
Murray State outshot Tech, 14-11. The Racers tailed a combined five shots in the pair of extra sessions, while the Golden Eagles notched a total of three in the two overtimes. Junior Tina Marolt paced Tech with four shots in the match.
The Golden Eagles will have a lengthy layoff before their next contest, Sept. 29 at Belmont. First kick with the Bruins is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information