By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A three-point effort by Karigan Owens and another stellar effort by Tennessee Tech soccer team was the story Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles took down Eastern Kentucky, 2-0, in the second to last match of the regular season. With the win, TTU (8-4-3, 5-1-3 OVC) runs its unbeaten streak to eight consecutive.
Coupled with a Murray State win at Belmont, the Golden Eagles enter the final weekend of the regular season in a tie for second place with EKU, holding the tiebreaker with the Colonels (8-4-4, 5-1-3) by virtue of Sunday's win. The top two finishers earn a bye straight to the OVC Tournament semifinals in early November.
"It was an awesome game for our team," Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "To be able to have the opportunity to have last year's co-regular season championship team come to our field and have a game like that is big for us. I thought our team played really well this afternoon. We found a way to get a couple of goals and ultimately did what we needed to do to come away with a win."
Owens assisted on the first score and found the back of the net for the second Golden Eagle goal, both coming off corners to help pave the way for a Tech offense that collected its third two-goal output of the season.
Defensively, Tech carded its league-leading ninth shutout with its fourth-straight blanking, tying the 2000 Golden Eagle squad for the most shutouts in a row in program history. TTU has not allowed a goal in the last 487 minutes dating back to an Oct. 1 tilt with Austin Peay.
"We live and die by our defending at times and today I'm happy to see us record another shutout," Springthorpe noted. "We ended up with two this weekend and two last weekend, so I think we are in a good groove defensively. I'm proud of our entire group. Defending is not just a back four and a goal keeper, it's the whole team making the effort and I thought we were very organized today and made it hard on them [EKU]."
Tech wasted no time in jumping on the board, finding the back of the net just over six minutes into the contest. Karigan Owens lined up the first of nine TTU corners, slamming one through a crowd huddled inside the EKU box. Junior Molly Kafader emerged through traffic, knocking one off her head and into the back of the net for the Nashville native's first-career goal.
For Owens, the assist put the 5-foot-9 senior in sole possession of third place on the all-time career list, surpassing TTU Hall of Famer Jill Burns with her 17th assist in her Tech tenure.
A similar fate struck the Golden Eagles in the second half, this time splitting the pipes a mere nine minutes into closing stanza. Owens needed no aid in Tech's first corner of the period, as the La Grange, Ky. native curved a drive that just slipped past Eastern Kentucky's Anna Hall to put Tech ahead, 2-0.
"We haven't scored a ton this year so when we get two in one day it's a bunch for us," Springthorpe said, on his club's offensive execution. "We did it off of two corners, which maybe gets the monkey off of our back a little considering all the success we've had on corners in the past, despite not finding the back of the net as much on them this year."
The Golden Eagles doubled up the shot margin with a 12-6 edge, limiting the Colonels to just one try in the first half. Sophomores Dani Shartouny and Nora Vicsek boasted a match-high three shots apiece. Jordan Foster and Monica Rios led the Colonels with two attempts each.
Kari Naerdemann collected her league-leading ninth shutout of the season and 27th in her career. The Herne, Germany native was forced into making just one save. EKU's Anna Hall stopped four-of-six Tech attempts.
TTU will host UT Martin in the regular season finale from Tech Soccer Field on Sunday, Oct. 22. The match will also serve as Senior Day as the Golden Eagles will hold a special pre-game ceremony honoring seniors Lauren Brewer, Mary Francis Hoots, Michaella Keyes, McKenzie McCloud, Alyssa Montgomery, Cassidy Ortman and Karigan Owens, as well as team manager Zoie Hensley. First kick with the Skyhawks is slated for 1 p.m. CT.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information