MOREHEAD, Ky. – After its deepest run into the Ohio Valley
Conference tournament since winning the championship in 2000 the
Tennessee Tech soccer team fell 4-0 in the championship game to
Murray State on Sunday.
The Golden Eagles won back-to-back double-overtime games on Thursday and Friday against Eastern Illinois and host Morehead State to advance to the championship game, but defending regular-season champion Murray State got on the board early, and would not look back.
“It wasn’t the outcome we were looking for, but I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Tennessee Tech head coach Becky Fletcher said. “They fought their way into this championship. They went to double-overtime in back-to-back games and still had the legs to come out today and compete.”
Rebecca Shultz put the Racers up 1-0 five minutes into the contest with a shot from inside the box off a pass from Kalli McCoy. McCoy scored Murray State’s next goal nearly 10 minutes later to put MSU up 2-0. Sydney Smith would add another before halftime, and Rachel Wright would score Murray’s final goal, both off assists from Danielle McMurray.
“We just could not get on the scoreboard today,” Fletcher said. “Murray played an excellent game. They are a very good team, and will be a very good representation of the conference in the NCAA tournament.”
Michelle Decker and Ashley Smith each had two shots on goal for the Golden Eagles, and Tech held an 8-6 advantage in that category, but could not find the back of the net. Tech also took a slim 11-10 advantage in total shots. Sophomore goalkeeper Kaitlyn Thacker finished with two saves.
Jacquie Watkins, Kris Cambron, Kerri Reid, Jennee Kimball and Andrea Meloff each finished with one shot for the Golden Eagles.
Jen Hoffman, Kris Cambron and Michelle Decker Eagles were name to the OVC all-tournament team. Hoffman recorded only the sixth hat trick in Tech history when she scored all three of Techs goals in a 3-2 win over Eastern Illinois in the first round. It was the first ever hat trick for a Golden Eagle in the OVC tournament.
“Those goals were pretty lucky to me,” Hoffman said. “I know that I wouldn’t have gotten those goals without my team. Not only from the other ten players on the field but from the bench. I know that a lot of players really stepped up and proved themselves this whole tournament, which is really special to our group.”
Cambron had one goal and an assist in the tournament.
The Golden Eagles were playing in their second-consecutive OVC tournament under second-year coach Fletcher after missing the tournament the previous four seasons.
“We just talked about how nobody would have believed on August 4th that we would make it this far,” Hoffman said. “We’re looking forward to the future and we’ve got to springboard into next season. We have a lot of returnees, and another class coming in, so hopefully that will mean good things for the future.”
Tech was picked to finish fifth in the OVC, and finished in fourth place after going 3-3-2 in league play and 5-11-3 overall. Tech finished the year with a 7-12-3 overall record. Tech’s seven wins are the most by a Golden Eagle squad since 2004. Defender Brittany Rogers is the only Golden Eagle to complete her eligibility this season.
“We’ve got a really young team with just one senior so I’m hoping that the girls get a taste of it now and we know what their hard work can lead to,” Fletcher said. “It’s going to motivate them. I couldn’t be more proud of my team, of the girls, they did a great job. They have bought in and this is a great bunch to work with so I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Lindsey Stefanini, Morehead State
Brittany MacLennan, Morehead State
Sophie Cox, UT Martin
Nuala Deans, UT Martin
Jen Hoffman, Tennessee Tech
Kris Cambron, Tennessee Tech
Michelle Decker, Tennessee Tech
Tara Isbell, Murray State
Ashley Fraser, Murray State
Tara Isbell, Murray State
Audrey Wilson, Murray State
Sophie Hargreaves, Murray State (MVP)
Photos by Thomas Corhern, Cookeville Herald-Citizen