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August 24, 2011

Golden Eagles hit the road to face East Tennessee, UNC Asheville

Brizard calls for more intensity from bench

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Rebounding from two losses in last weekend’s season-opening homestand is order No. 1 for the Tennessee Tech soccer team as it takes to the road this week for a pair of contests at East Tennessee and UNC Asheville.

The Golden Eagles (0-2, 0-0 OVC) are coming off two very different types of games — a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chattanooga on Friday, which they felt they should have won, and a 3-1 loss to Belmont on Sunday in which they simply were outplayed.

The result of both matches, however, was the same, and Tech is looking to reverse the script this weekend when they travel to East Tennessee State for a 6 p.m. match Friday and UNC Asheville for a 1 p.m. start on Sunday.

“The girls are disappointed,” head coach Daniel Brizard said. “I thought we were the better team on Friday. We made two mistakes that led to goals, but we controlled the majority of the possession and we had the advantage on shots.

“On Sunday, we just got outplayed, outhustled and outworked. They stuck to their game and finished, and we just didn’t show up.”

Tech did score goals in each outing, even taking a 1-0 lead in the first half against Chattanooga when Kerri Reid scored unassisted from 15 yards out. Sarah Gawthrop provided the offense for the Golden Eagles against Belmont, bending in a corner kick late in the second half.

Goalkeeper Becca Toler notched a combined 10 saves on the weekend.

Ten players saw 100 minutes or more over the two matches, with freshman midfielder Chelsea Ladd among them. Ladd played 45 minutes against Chattanooga on Friday then got the starting nod on Sunday and played 55 minutes against Belmont.

“Chelsea is still working up to Division I fitness,” Brizard said of the Fairfield, Calif., native. “We’d like her to be a 90-minute player, last a little longer, but I think she’s done really well. I think she’s stepped up in her role. Sometimes it’s touch-and-go with freshmen. You don’t know how they’re going to react to the next level.”

Brizard said he was pleased with each of the team’s eight freshmen, even those who haven’t yet received significant playing time.

“We’re eventually going to get all of our freshmen in,” he said. “I’m not a deep coach. I don’t go 22 players deep because I like some continuity on the field.”

The second-year head coach said he would like to see more intensity from his bench in this weekend’s matches.

“The quality of kids we have starting and the first couple coming off the bench are really good,” he said. “When our subs come in, sometimes I think we take a step down in intensity. I know it’s hard coming off the bench, but you’ve got to accept a role sometimes and make the best of it.”

Scouting East Tennessee State

East Tennessee State returns six starters from last year’s 8-7-3 campaign and debuts a first-year head coach in Adam Sayers.

Sayers kicked off his tenure with a 2-1 loss to Wofford on Friday, the first and only game ETSU will have played coming into this Friday’s matchup with the Golden Eagles.

The Buccaneers took just five shot attempts against Wofford, four of which were on goal. Morgan Thomas scored ETSU’s only goal of the game in the 67th minute on an assist from Kim Elmore.

Ramey Kerns is the Buccaneers’ leading returning offensive producer from 2010, when she scored six goals and distributed one assist and finished with a .207 shot percentage as a freshman.

Defense was the strength of East Tennessee’s 2010 club, which ranked second in the Atlantic Sun Conference in goals allowed (1.06) and third in goals against average (1.00). The Buccaneers had seven shutouts on the season.

Offensively, ETSU ranked near the middle of the pack in the A-Sun in most categories, with the exception of shots taken, where they were second, averaging 14.83 shots per outing.

Tennessee Tech is 3-3-3 all-time against ETSU with the last meeting ending in a 2-2 tie in Johnson City in 2007.

Scouting UNC Asheville

UNC Asheville returns nine starters from a team that finished 1-16 in 2010, head coach Michelle Demko’s first season at the helm.

Demko’s second year in Asheville started on a similar note as the Bulldogs fell 8-1 to Davidson on Saturday, their only game prior to facing Tennessee Tech this Sunday.

UNC-A took four shots compared to 34 for Davidson, 20 of which were on goal. Freshman forward Amanda Dailor scored the only goal of the game for the Bulldogs.

Senior midfielder Leilani Halkiotis is UNC Asheville’s leading returning scorer, having accumulated four goals and three assists in 2010.

The Bulldogs finished near the bottom of the Big South Conference in most statistical categories in 2010 and especially struggled defensively, posting a goals-against average of 3.51 per game.

Tennessee Tech is 1-1 all-time against UNC Asheville with the most recent result being a 3-1 Golden Eagle victory in Cookeville in 2010.