By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It's a weekend chock full of home matches for the Tennessee Tech soccer team as the Golden Eagles are set to unwrap their 2018 home slate with a pair of Cookeville clashes under the lights.
Tech (1-1-0) will connect with in-state foe East Tennessee State Friday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. CT before putting a lid on the first home stand of the year with a Sunday night meeting against North Alabama at 6 p.m. Both matches at Tech Soccer Field are free of charge.
The Golden Eagles split their first two contests of the year, first knocking off Georgia State in a 1-0 thriller on Aug. 17 that featured a significant piece of both program and conference history. With her 29th career victory between the pipes, senior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann broke the tie with Carly King (2001-04) for the most wins in program history, while Naerdemann's blanking that night surpassed SEMO's Lindsay Pickering (2005-07) and SIUE's Jennifer Pelly (2012-15) for the most career shutouts in OVC history with 29.
As far as the offense is concerned in Tech's narrow victory over the Panthers, sophomore Kendall Powell found the back of the net in the 81st minute for her fifth career game-winning goal after tying the program single-season record with four winners in her rookie campaign last year. Powell's goal was made possible on a Katie Bain throw-in that gave Bain her first career assist as a Golden Eagle.
TTU's bid at a perfect 2-0 start eluded them in the club's next contest as the Golden Eagles fell 2-1 at Lipscomb on Aug. 19 in a match that saw Tech give up more than one goal for just the second time in the last 34 matches dating back to 2016. Despite the defeat, senior Courtney Manning collected her first career goal and freshman Ashley Grimes recorded her first career assist. Tina Marolt was credited with an assist as well, her fifth in just over a season in purple and gold.
Marolt leads Tech with five shots in two matches and is one of five Golden Eagles that have not left the pitch so far this season. Rachel Blow, Molly Kafader, Kari Naerdemann and Kaitie Shipley have also played in all 180 minutes in the two tilts this year.
Cookeville has proven to have been kind to the Golden Eagles in recent recollection, with Tech entering the weekend on a 14-match home unbeaten streak dating back to early September 2016. TTU posted a 6-0-1 mark at Tech Soccer Field last season and went 7-1-1 two years ago.
East Tennessee State will be on the road for the first time this year after a season-opening home stand that saw the Buccaneers drop both matches. ETSU fell 1-0 to George Mason on Aug. 16 before Eastern Kentucky bested the Bucs 3-1 on Tuesday. Eleonora Goldoni is responsible for the squad's lone goal so far in 2018, a 15th minute net-finder that unwrapped the scoring in Tuesday's meeting with the Colonels.
The all-time series between the two Tennessee clubs is deadlocked at 6-6-4. The Golden Eagles captured last year's battle 1-0 in Johnson City and the last Cookeville affair ended in a 1-1 draw in 2016.
New to the Division I circuit this season, North Alabama has started its season in primed fashion with back-to-back home wins to kick off the year. The Lions knocked off Alabama State 5-1 on Aug. 17 and took down Alabama A&M 2-1 on Aug. 19. Shelby Wall and Madeline Guillen have paced the clubs with two goals apiece, while Wall's six points tops the UNA unit.
The Golden Eagles are a perfect 2-0 against North Alabama in the all-time series, with both meetings taking place in the late 90s.
The Lions will host Jackson State Friday evening before coming to Cookeville Sunday night.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information