By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It seemed only fitting. The appropriate script for a pair of four-year Golden Eagles, playing on their Senior Day, in front of the hometown crowd for one of the last times in their lengthy and lofty careers.
On a day largely based on honoring the resumes of TTU's quartet of seniors, two provided the proper theatrics in a 2-1 victory for the Tennessee Tech soccer team over Austin Peay.
Trailing 1-0 late in regulation, Kaitie Shipley tied it in the 83rd minute. Moments later, Nora Vicsek won it in the 88th minute, completing a frenzied comeback that pushed the Golden Eagles (4-5-4, 2-1-2 OVC) into the win column with the club's second OVC nod of the 2019 campaign.
"Talking before the game, we were really saying that 'points are precious' and we know we are in a dog fight right now to try go get into the conference tournament," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said, on the dramatic clash with the Govs. "To be down as late as we were today and to find a way to come back and win to get a precious three points was pretty special on our team's part.
"Everyone was awesome today," Springthorpe continued. "From the players that started to those that came off the bench, and even those who didn't get in brought a ton of energy and excitement. It was just a great, great win for TTU soccer today."
The late heroics by Shipley and Vicsek added to an already chaotic conclusion in the seesaw affair. The second stanza saw a combined nine cards, including red ones from both sides in the closing stages. In fact, Tech scored the game-winning goal with 10 players after receiving a red card in the 85th minute.
Despite playing with a player down, the Golden Eagles were unfazed. With less 2:30 remaining in regulation, Vicsek ended up in the box with possession, but was taken down by a Governor to set up the 5-foot-6 forward with a penalty kick and a chance to essentially capture the contest.
Cool, calm and collected, Vicsek split the pipes for her second goal of the season and ninth of her Tech tenure. The score was also Vicsek's sixth career game-winning goal to move her into sole possession of fourth place on the program's all-time list.
Shipley's net-finder in the 83rd minute saw the Barrie, Ontario native extend up the pitch from her normal defensive spot and bury a beauty that snuck just inside the far post. Shipley secured possession after collecting a pass from fellow senior Tina Marolt, who earned an assist on the game-tying goal.
Marolt's assists came a mere 42 seconds after the Smatevz, Slovenia product nearly squared the contest herself after drilling one off the cross bar early in the 83rd minute. The ricochet off the bar was then promptly headed by Shipley, but ultimately saved by APSU keeper Mary Parker Powell.
"It was just crazy. A crazy, wild match with yellow cards, red cards, PK's, fouls, you name it and it happened in this game," Springthorpe claimed. "I'm definitely excited that we came back and found a way to win the game in the last 10 minutes. That's really a credit to our seniors.
"I mean you think about what happened today," Springthorpe continued. It's Senior Day and we get scores from two of our seniors. The tying goal comes from Shipley, a senior, and then Nora, another senior, hammers one home to get us over the top. Our team battled to the final whistle and it was just really exciting."
Shipley, Vicsek and Marolt, with her assist, all played pivotal roles on the offensive side of the equation, while Rachel Blow came up large on the defensive side of the spectrum to help round out TTU's senior showcase in the club's final home Sunday match of the regular season. Blow was one of five Golden Eagles to play all 90 minutes and helped lead a Tech defense that allowed only eight Austin Peay shots, highlighted by just two from the Govs (2-7-3, 1-3-1 OVC) in the second half.
Shipley ended up leading the match with four shots, two of which were on-goal. Renee Semaan and Melody Fisher paced APSU with two shots apiece, including Fisher's header that found the back of the net in the 51st minute.
The 5-foot-6 senior split the posts off of a corner from Claire Larose, with Larose earning an assist on the goal the unwrapped the scoring.
Isabelle Austin posted two saves in between the pipes, while Powell notched six stops for the Govs, including a pair of point-blank chances that nearly got the Golden Eagles on the board. Cassidy Bereda knocked one right off the APSU keeper from in close in the eighth minute and Kendall Powell lined a header off the Governor senior in the 59th minute off a TTU corner.
The Golden Eagles will remain at home with a Friday, Oct. 11 battle against Murray State. First kick with the Racers is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT. Admission to Tech Soccer Field is free of charge.
Photo by Thomas Corhern