By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team will tie a ribbon on its non-conference slate over the weekend with a pair of home matches under the lights. The Golden Eagles will welcome Troy to Tech Soccer Field on Friday at 7 p.m. CT before greeting No. 9 University of Tennessee on Sunday at 6 p.m. to conclude non-conference action.
Tech's matchup with the Vols will mark just the third time in program history in which an SEC school has traveled to Cookeville for a regular season match. TTU's last battle with the vaunted Southeastern Conference was a 2-1 win Tech win over Alabama on Aug. 30, 2015. The Golden Eagles were also bested by Vanderbilt on Sept. 7, 2008.
Admission is free to both weekend matches and each contest will be live streamed on the OVC Digital Network.
A look at Tech
Tech (3-3-0) enters the homestand with some momentum following an offensive outburst that saw the Golden Eagles secure a 4-0 win at Purdue Fort Wayne in the club's last clash on Sunday, Sept. 2. Tech's four-goal surge marked the first time that TTU has put four on the board since a 4-1 victory at UNC Asheville on Aug. 28, 2011.
Sophomore Kendall Powell led the scoring brigade with a piece of program history that featured a hat trick for the Cookeville native, just the seventh in program history and first since Jen Hoffman split the pipes three times in a win over Eastern Illinois on Nov. 5, 2009. Overall Powell's performance made her only the fourth different Golden Eagle to record a hat trick, joining Hoffman, TTU Hall of Famer Jill Burns and Tania Desmarais, who became the first Tech player to find the back of the net three times in one match back on Oct. 6, 2001. Burns is the only Golden Eagle to accomplish the feat more than once, registering four hat tricks throughout her illustrious career.
Powell's heroics led her to this week's OVC Offensive Player of the Week honor, Tech's first weekly honor this season. The dynamic sophomore enters the weekend second in the OVC with four goals scored.
Defensively, Tech's two shutouts are good enough for a tie for third in the conference. Senior Kari Naerdemann's pair of blankings this year put her in rarified air as the only goalkeeper in OVC history with 30 career shutouts. The Herne, Germany native also has a TTU career-best 31 victories.
A look at Troy
Following a 2-0 victory at Jacksonville in Troy's season-opener, the Trojans (1-4-1) have been unable to check the win column in the club's last five matches, a slate that has featured matches with No. 10 Florida State and Ole Miss. The club is currently in a stretch of four straight away from home and most recently played on Tuesday, a scoreless draw at Jacksonville State. Freshman goalkeeper Acelya Aydogmus was kept busy in between the pipes with eight saves in the contest.
Five different Trojans have found the back of the net this season, though no player has recorded at least two goals. Natalie Melilo and Kendra Cashion each have one goal and one assist for a team-leading three points.
Troy leads the all-time series 2-1. The two squads last locked up in 2015, a Trojan 3-0 win in Cookeville.
A look at Tennessee
Before taking aim at Tech Soccer Field, the Vols (5-0-1) will square off with another in-state foe in the form of East Tennessee State Thursday evening in Johnson City. Ranked ninth in the nation, UT has allowed only one goal this season as part of a 1-1 draw at Wake Forest on Aug. 23.
Amy Thompson leads the Volunteers with three goals and seven points, while Danielle Marcano and Salera Jordan are the team leaders with 15 shots apiece.
Tech and UT have never squared off on the pitch before.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information