Golden Eagles capture home opener in final seconds over Appalachian State

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Becky Fletcher earned her first victory as Tennessee Tech soccer coach, and it couldn't have come in a more dramatic fashion. With 15 seconds remaining, senior Katie Hoover netted a free kick from 40-plus yards out, to clinch a 1-0 victory over Appalachian State (0-1-1) Friday, in the team's home opener.

"The first win is going to be special anywhere," Fletcher said. "But the first one back at Tech, it's unbelievable."

Fletcher was a graduate assistant coach at Tech from 1999-2001, while the Golden Eagles went 31-28-0.

Fletcher's victory wasn't the only milestone set for the Golden Eagles (1-3-0) Friday. Freshman goalkeeper Kaitlyn Thacker posted her first career shutout, with five saves, many of those from point blank range.

"Kaitlyn came up huge for us," Fletcher said. "She's a freshman, and freshman usually don't play like that. She did anything and everything to keep the ball out of the back of the net."

With the score tied 0-0 with time winding down, it looked like the game would be headed to overtime, before a late foul set up Hoover for the game-winner. It was her second goal off of a free kick this season.

"She hit the ball exactly where she was trying to hit it. She hit it very well, on a rope, side net, upper ninety. The keeper never had a chance. I'm very proud of her," Fletcher said.

Nearly 300 fans packed Tech Soccer Field for the match, and the home field advantage is something the Golden Eagles plan to keep on their side.

"The fans were awesome, it made the environment electric," Fletcher said. "It pushed the girls, motivated them to play even harder. When they felt there were getting a little tired, they heard the guys on the couches screaming and yelling for them, and that was huge.

The Golden Eagles finished the game with 11 total shots, including four on goal, while the Mountaineers posted eight shots, five on goal. The match-up also saw 29 total fouls, five yellow-cards, and a red-card. Two of the yellow-cards went against the Golden Eagles. After dropping the first three games of the 2008 season, all of which on the road, the Golden Eagles pulled out their first victory.

"I want to give this victory to the kids," Fletcher said. "They worked and worked. The effort was here. It was the best effort we've had all year. We had a great week of practice, and I think this is going to bring us together."

Tech wraps up the weekend Sunday, when it hosts Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. Admission to Tech home soccer matches is free.