October 16, 2011

Heffner scores overtime goal, lifts Golden Eagles on Senior Day

Tech earns crucial victory in race for OVC Tournament

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Leigh Heffner delivered the Golden Goal in overtime for Tennessee Tech on Sunday afternoon, heading in a Sarah Gawthrop corner kick to break a scoreless tie and give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 victory on Senior Day.

Tech won the corner at the 98:25 mark, and Gawthrop placed it into the box, where Heffner rose out of a crowd to head it into the Austin Peay net, giving the Golden Eagles a crucial victory as they fight to stay alive in the race to qualify for the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

The goal was the first-career for Heffner, a junior defender from Arvada, Colo., whose heroics allowed fellow back-line member senior Lindsey Reed as well as Mary Gray Johnson and Krysta Kaump to end their Senior Day on a celebratory note. Gawthrop earned the assist on the play, the first of her season to go with two goals, giving the junior forward five points.

Tech has now won two matches this season on game-winners in sudden-death overtime, with the first coming on a Kris Cambron strike from 40 yards out to beat Jacksonville State 2-1 on Oct. 7. The Golden Eagles are also 2-1 over their last three matches.

Heffner and her teammates turned in a strong defensive performance against the Governors, limiting Austin Peay to five shots on goal in the match and earning Tech's second shutout of the season.

The Golden Eagles had a couple of excellent opportunities to score prior to the game-winner, including a chance with 13 minutes left on the clock when an Emily Homan cross found the head of Ellie Iaciofano, but the shot sailed just wide. Tech had another chance early in the overtime period when Kerri Reid got past her defender and faced a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Her shot was saved.

Austin Peay took 15 shots in the match, putting five on goal, while Tech took 10 shots and put six on goal. The Governors won nine corner kicks compared to five for Tennessee Tech. TTU goalkeeper Becca Toler saved five shots en route to the shutout while Austin Peay's Haylee Shoaff also notched five. Shots on goal for the Golden Eagles came from Heffner, Iaciofano, Reid, Jacquie Watkins and Taylor Hicks.

The Golden Eagles held Austin Peay's Tatiana Ariza, the third-ranked goal-scorer in NCAA Division I to two shots on the afternoon, neither of which were on goal.

With the victory, Tech surpasses its win total from a season ago with two games remaining.

The Golden Eagles will play their final weekend of the regular season beginning Friday, Oct. 28 at Tennessee-Martin at 4 p.m. and concluding Sunday, Oct. 30 at Southeast Missouri at 1 p.m.

Tech (5-11-1, 2-5-0 OVC) needs to at least earn a split next weekend in order to qualify for the postseason tournament, which begins Nov. 3 and will be held at the site of the regular-season champion.