By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
RICHMOND, Ky. – In its final road match of the 2018 regular season, the Tennessee Tech soccer team captured a crucial tie at Eastern Kentucky Sunday afternoon, keeping its hopes for a berth into the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament alive heading into the final weekend of the year.
The Golden Eagle offense provided the early spark in the tilt, as junior defender Rachel Blow used a set piece to put Tech (6-7-2, 2-4-2) up 1-0. In the 19th minute, Blow put the ball into play off a corner kick, eventually bending the attempt into the net and past EKU goalkeeper Zoe Aguirre for the lead.
It marked the veteran's first goal of the season and provided a 1-0 halftime advantage for a Tech unit that was out-shot over the first 45 minutes, 7-4.
The Colonels (7-6-3, 3-2-3), which started the day in fourth place in the league with 11 points, piled on the pressure in the second half, out-firing the Golden Eagles 10-2. While the onslaught over the final 45 minutes of regulation only mustered three shots on goal, it did result in the game-tying score.
In the 60th minute, EKU's Bailly Bounds scored in the upper 90 on a set piece from 20 yards out, just beating the out-stretched hands of Tech goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann. The Golden Eagle senior finished regulation with five saves, holding off the home team's offense the remainder of the half to force overtime.
Naerdemann made another stop in the first of what would become two extra periods, giving her six for the day and 71 on the year. Neither side would record a shot on goal in the second overtime stanza, creating the tie.
It marked the third time in the two teams' previous four meetings that the contest had reached a second overtime. Last season, in the semifinals of the OVC Tournament, EKU connected on a game-winner in the second extra period for a 1-0 win.
In 2016, the two teams squared off in the OVC Tournament semifinals, playing to a scoreless tie after two overtime periods. The Colonels would move on to the championship game after penalty kicks.
With the tie, the Golden Eagles sit just two points out of locking down a spot in the 2018 OVC Tournament. Tech will close out the regular season this weekend back home in the comfort of Cookeville and Tech Soccer Field.
Returning to a pitch in which it stands an incredible 13-0-2 in its last 15 matches against OVC competition, the Golden Eagles will host third-place SIUE on Friday in a 7 p.m. CT match. Tech will then host Eastern Illinois on Sunday in a 1 p.m. tilt that represents both Senior Day and the regular-season finale.
Photo by Thomas Corhern