By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It's down to the final three matches in the regular season for the Tennessee Tech soccer team. The trio of tilts begins with a pair of home affairs over the weekend, as the Golden Eagles will host Morehead State Friday afternoon, before greeting Eastern Kentucky for a Sunday showdown with the Colonels. Friday's match will begin at 3 p.m. CT, while Sunday's clash is set for 1 p.m.
Tech (6-4-3, 3-1-3 OVC) enters the duo of contests riding a six-match unbeaten streak that has not seen a Golden Eagle loss since an overtime defeat at Southeast Missouri on Sept. 15. TTU most recently shutout both SIU Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois in two-straight scoreless draws that tied a ribbon on Tech's road slate for the regular season. In fact, the Golden Eagles have gone 307 minutes since their last goal allowed, way back in the third minute of a 2-1 win over Austin Peay on Oct. 1.
TTU's seven shutouts are the most in the OVC, and its seven goals allowed this are the fewest in the league, with no other school even cracking single digits in that department. The Golden Eagles also best the conference with a miniscule 0.51 goals against average.
With two more shutouts added to her resume during Tech's trip up north, Kari Naerdemann ran her career record to 25 in just under three years with the program. The two-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year leads the conference in shutouts (two more than the next closest goalkeeper), goals against average (0.51) and save percentage (.887).
The Golden Eagles are currently sitting in fifth place in the OVC, but are still right in the thick of things to move up with the postseason a mere stone's throw away. Tech has 12 points, while SIUE has 13, Murray State has 14, and both Belmont and EKU are locked for first with 15 points.
Morehead State has not played an OVC match since Oct. 1, a 3-1 win at Eastern Illinois. The Eagles (3-9-1, 2-3-1 OVC) traveled out of conference on Oct. 6 and fell, 4-0, at No. 22 Cincinnati.
Junior Cara Maher is the club leader with three goals and seven points. Between the pipes, junior Michelle Washburn has yielded 21 goals in 12 matches, while saving 69 for a .767 save percentage.
Tech leads the all-time series with the Eagles, 10-8-3. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw last year in Morehead. The Golden Eagles edged MSU, 1-0, in the last Cookeville meeting on Oct. 29, 2015.
Eastern Kentucky, last year's co-regular season champion, will be at Jacksonville State Friday night for a 7 p.m. CT battle with the Gamecocks. The Colonels (7-3-4, 4-0-3 OVC) have not lost a conference clash this year, and have gone unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 matches.
Seniors Emmi Carroll and Jordan Foster pace the club with 13 points apiece. Carroll boasts a squad-leading six goals, while Foster's five goals and three assists makes up the Fairborn, Ohio native's 13 points. The 5-foot-7 forward set single-season program records last year in goals (8), assists (5), points (21) and game-winning goals (4).
Fellow senior Anna Hall has played each and every minute in net this year for EKU, surrendering 17 goals and posting a .746 save percentage behind 50 saves.
The Colonels lead the all-time series with Tech, 9-4. Eastern Kentucky knocked off the Golden Eagles, 1-0, in last year's regular season finale. TTU claimed a 3-0 victory in the last Cookeville affair on Oct. 2, 2015.
Admission to all Tech home regular season matches is free of charge.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information