Golden Eagles need to win out to qualify for OVC Tournament

Tech faces UT Martin, Southeast Missouri this weekend

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Going into the final weekend of the 2011 season, Tennessee Tech can win its way into the Ohio Valley Conference tournament with two victories on the road at Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri.

It's a do-or-die weekend for the Golden Eagles, who kept themselves alive in the race to qualify for the tournament with a 1-0 overtime victory over Austin Peay on Oct. 16. That was the last time Tech took to the pitch, enjoying a bye weekend before the upcoming final weekend of play.

"We had a good week of practice, and the bye week gave the girls a chance to get their legs under them," said head coach Daniel Brizard. "Going into this weekend, we know we have to win both games to give ourselves a chance. We have to get it done, and we have the team to do it regardless of the win-loss record."

In order to play their way into the postseason, the Golden Eagles (5-11-1, 2-5 OVC) will have to beat two teams with overall winning records, beginning at UT Martin (9-6-2, 3-3-1 OVC) at 4 p.m. Friday and continuing with league-leading Southeast Missouri (10-5-1, 6-1 OVC) at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Through 17 games this season, the Golden Eagles are a balanced offensive squad, with sophomore Ellie Iaciofano and junior Kris Cambron leading the team in points with seven apiece. Iaciofano has scored three girls and given out one assist while Cambron has scored two goals and distributed three assists.

Juniors Kerri Reid and Andrea Meloff have six points each, with Reid having scored three goals on the season and Meloff having scored two goals and dished out two assists.

Each member of Tech's back line — Lindsey Reed, Leigh Heffner, Julie Thompson and Taylor Hicks — has been a stalwart, playing at least 1,486 minutes this season.

Brizard said he has been pleased with his squad's progress from the beginning of the season up to the regular-season finale, and he believes his team played its best game of the year in its Senior Day victory over Austin Peay.

"As coaches, we've really taken them out of their comfort zone and get them to think through things during a game and adjust on the fly without looking to the coaches for instruction," he said. "They took it on themselves to do that in the Austin Peay, and I think the maturity showed.

NOTES:

- Three Tech players have earned OVC weekly awards this season — Becca Toler (Goalkeeper of the Week, Aug. 30), Lindsey Reed (Defender of the Week, Sept. 6), and Leigh Heffner (Defender of the Week, Oct. 18).

-  Junior forward Andrea Meloff is tied for fifth on Tech's all-time goal scorers list with 15 to her name. She needs two goals to move into a tie for fourth place with Robyn Vince.

SCOUTING UT MARTIN

UT Martin comes into Friday's match with a 9-6-2 overall record and a 3-3-1 mark in OVC play. The Skyhawks are coming off a 2-1 double-overtime victory over league-leading Southeast Missouri on Oct. 21.

Tech is 8-6-1 all-time against UT Martin with the Skyhawks claiming a 3-0 victory in the last meeting between the two schools on Oct. 10, 2011, in Martin.

UTM is scoring 1.82 goals per game this season while surrendering 1.24. The Golden Eagles score an average of 1.06 goals per contest while giving up 1.59.

The Skyhawks are led offensively by senior forward Rosaelia Loza, who has accumulated 19 points on the season, scoring eight goals and assisting on three scores. Loza ranks second in the OVC in points and third in goals.

For many of the Golden Eagles and Skyhawks players, familiarity runs deeper than just having played against one another in collegiate competition. Tech junior defender Julie Thompson will face two former high school teammates in UT Martin's Hannah Fessenden and Mary Thompson. All three played at Christian Academy in Knoxville.

Thompson isn't the only Golden Eagle to be re-united with a former high school teammate on Friday. Tech's Jessica Wilson and UTM's Kelsey Roberson both played at Cookeville while TTU goalkeeper Becca Toler and UTM forward Kendyl Wilson were teammates at Collierville.

SCOUTING SOUTHEAST MISSOURI

League-leading Southeast Missouri State comes into the final weekend of regular-season play with a 10-5-1 overall record and a 6-1 conference mark. The likely host of the 2011 OVC Tournament, the Redhawks are coming off their only league loss thus far this season, a 2-1 setback against UT Martin in double-overtime on Oct. 21 in Cape Girardeau.

Tech is 5-7-1 all-time against SEMO, but the Golden Eagles are coming off a 1-0 victory in the last meeting between the two squads on Oct. 15, 2010 in Cookeville. Andrea Meloff scored the only goal of the match for the Golden Eagles off an assist from Jacquie Watkins.

SEMO enters the weekend scoring an average of 1.75 goals per game while surrendering a league-best 0.88 per contest.

The Redhawks are led offensively by freshman forward Erin Shulman, who has scored nine goals on the season to accumulate 18 points.