Tech hosts Middle Tennessee Aug. 21 to open
Click here to view 2009 soccer schedule
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A highly competitive non-conference schedule, three teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year, and seven home matches highlight Tennessee Tech’s 2009 soccer schedule, announced this week by second-year head coach Becky Fletcher.
Among the challenges facing the Golden Eagles will be road matches against Texas State and Belmont, both teams that reached post-season play in 2008. Those contests come during an early seven-match road stretch that Fletcher says will test her young team.
“Our non-conference schedule is very competitive, and we have a lot of road matches,” Fletcher said. “We’re really going to have to learn how to play on the road against tough teams, but my hope is that it will prepare us for the conference schedule.”
The Golden Eagles open the campaign with two home matches in August, hosting Middle Tennessee on Friday, Aug. 21, and UT Chattanooga the following Friday, Aug. 28. Both matches begin at 4 p.m.
“MTSU is a very tough opening match,” Fletcher said. “They are usually one of the top teams in the Sun Belt Conference, which is a very competitive league. They are a solid squad, from their top player all the way through the entire roster, and thy play good soccer.
“We haven’t played Middle Tennessee in several years, and I’m glad to get them back on the schedule. I think it can be a good in-state rivalry.”
The second week brings UTC to town.
“We have a long-standing rivalry with Chattanooga,” Fletcher said. “It’s been a good series for as long as I can remember. They’re out of the Southern Conference, which is another strong conference.
“I like that we have a week between our first two matches,” she added. “After that, we really get started with a couple matches every week.”
The road stretch begins Aug. 30 at Radford, and includes contests against Alabama State, Texas State, Belmont, UNC Asheville, Marshall and Kentucky. After visiting Alabama State in Montgomery on Sept. 4, the Golden Eagles meet Texas State on Sept. 6 in a match in Birmingham, on Samford University’s field.
Tech visits Belmont on Sept. 11 and UNCA on Sept. 13, then plays two contests in the University of Kentucky Tournament. The Golden Eagles face Marshall on Sept. 18 and Kentucky on Sept. 20.
“We’re familiar with UNC Asheville and Radford, so there’s a little bit of a rivalry there,” Fletcher said. “I think the UK Tournament will be a good experience for the team. playing in a tournament, staying in one location. We play MAC and SEC teams, and being a part of the tournament atmosphere will be good for us.”
Tech returns home to open OVC play, hosting UT Martin on Sept. 25 and Murray State on Sept. 27.
“Murray State won the regular season OVC title last year and UT Martin was third, so both are quality teams,” Fletcher said. “They were among the teams that set the standard last year. Based on last year’s results, we open with two of the best in the conference, back-to-back.”
After a road match at Eastern Kentucky Oct. 2, Tech hosts Morehead State on Oct. 4. The MSU Eagles won the OVC Tournament last season and are the third team on Tech’s schedule that advanced to NCAA play.
Tech hosts a non-conference encounter with Longwood University on Oct. 8, then welcomes Austin Peay on Oct. 11 for the final home match of the regular season.
The Golden Eagles go back on the road to close out the schedule, visiting Eastern Illinois, Southeast Missouri and Jacksonville State in OVC matches, and close with a non-conference trip to Lipscomb
“Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri have really been among the top teams on the OVC throughout the history of the conference,” Fletcher said. “Day-in and day-out, they are very solid programs.
“Lipscomb is another good rivalry,” she added. “They’re nearby, and a lot of our in-state girls have played with or against their players throughout their careers. They’re always a very organized, very competitive team. It’s a good match to end the regular season, and hopefully it will be a springboard into the conference tournament.”
The OVC Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 5-8, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament, beginning Nov. 13-14.
Admission is free for Tech’s home soccer matches at the campus field next to Eblen Center.