By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team's third weekend of OVC play will have its fair share of in-state flavor. The Golden Eagles are set to head to Nashville Friday night for a battle with Belmont at 6:30 p.m. CT, before coming right back home for a Sunday evening showdown with Austin Peay, beginning at 6 p.m.
Tech (4-4-1, 1-1-1) enters the weekend with check marks in each of the three columns in its conference record, most recently playing to a scoreless draw against Murray State in the club's OVC home opener on Sept. 21. TTU's blanking of the Racers pushed its league-leading shutout tally to five, while the Golden Eagles have not surrendered a goal in regulation in seven of nine affairs this season.
Overall, Tech has yielded just five scores this year, leading the OVC with a 0.54 goals against average mark. Junior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann has played each and every minute between the pipes this season, collecting 40 saves en route to pacing the conference with a .889 save percentage.
Offensively, freshman Kendall Powell leads the team with two goals, both of them game-winning scores. Junior Tina Marolt is the only Golden Eagle with two assists, while the Smatevz, Slovenia native has notched the most shots on the team with 24, eight of which have been on-goal.
Belmont and Austin Peay are tied for the OVC lead with 21 goals this season. The Bruins (6-3-1, 2-1-0) have scored at least three goals in a match on five separate occasions and have combined for five scores in their last two matches, a 3-2 win over Austin Peay on Sept. 17, and a 2-0 nod over Eastern Illinois on Sept. 22.
Senior Belicia Mendiola is third in the conference with six goals and 14 points. Two Bruins have split time in net this year, with sophomore Lily Herman doing a bulk of the work with a 4-2-1 record to go along with 22 saves and nine goals allowed. Freshman Abby Hunt is 2-1 this season with five saves.
Belmont narrowly leads the all-time series, 9-7-2; however the Golden Eagles captured both meetings in 2016. Tech blanked the Bruins in Cookeville on Sept. 25, before ending Belmont's season in the first round of the OVC Tournament with a 3-0 nod at Tech Soccer Field.
After falling at Belmont on Sept. 17, Austin Peay bounced back with two-straight OVC wins. The Govs (7-3-1, 2-1-1) recorded a 2-1 win over SIUE on Sept. 22, before shutting out EIU, 2-0, on Sept. 24. APSU is at Jacksonville State on Friday.
Senior Kirstin Robertson is tied for first in the OVC with nine goals, and is second to Murray State's Harriet Withers with 18 points. Sophomore Mary Parker Powell has done the majority of the goalkeeping duties this year, notching a 6-1-1 record with a 0.73 goals against average. The Germantown, Tenn. native has registered 20 stops and surrendered six goals.
Austin Peay has the upper hand in the all-time series with a 9-4-2 edge. The two teams played to a scoreless draw last year in Clarksville.
Admission to all Tech home regular season matches is free of charge.
Photo by Tony Marable