COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team will wrap up its regular season schedule this weekend when it hosts Southeast Missouri and travels to face Ohio Valley Conference leader UT Martin. The Golden Eagles are fighting for their playoff lives, trying to earn one of just six postseason berths to the OVC Tournament.
Tech controls its own destiny this weekend as they try to solidify their first postseason appearance since 2009. It's as simple as this; if the Golden Eagles win both matches this weekend, they make the tournament. If they lose one, they don't. Of course there are always other scenarios that involve ties and tiebreakers, but Tech knows that its always best to control your own destiny.
"We've got two must-win games this weekend, to use the old cliche, to get into the playoffs and survive the regular season," said head coach Daniel Brizard. "SEMO is going to be tough. They started off a bit slow but they've picked it up and they're sitting around at sixth in the standings. We have to beat them in order to give ourselves a chance going into Sunday."
The Golden Eagles' match-up against Southeast Missouri marks the last home match of the season. Game time is set for 3 p.m. CT at the Tech Soccer Field. Tech will then travel to Martin, Tenn. to take on the first place Skyhawks and earn a playoff spot. The match will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
"We need to play well as a team," said Brizard. "We need to impose ourselves on our attack and move forward. We need to connect well on our passes. We can't get strung out on our attack and leave gaps in our midfield that they can exploit, because they will. We're looking for consistency in our play through both halfs on Friday and hopefully can take that into Sunday against who I believe will be the regular season champs."
Scouting Southeast Missouri
- Southeast Missouri is 4-9-4 on th year, grabbing ties against Saint Louis, Evansville, UT Martin, and Belmont.
- The Redhawks have earned a 3-3-2 mark in OVC play this season, earning a key tie against Belmont last weekend.
- Friday's match will mark the 15th meeting between the two teams with SEMO owning a 5-8-1 advantage.
- In last season's match, Southeast Missouri defeated the Golden Eagles 3-0 in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
- Torey Byrd leads SEMO in goals this season, scoring three. She is tied with Courtney Luehmann and Jacey Boyko with six points for the team lead.
- Renee Kertz owns a fantastic 0.83 save percentage this eason, racking up 68 saves.
Daniel Brizard on the Redhawks
"I think SEMO is very blue collar and hard working. They'll likely attack us in a 4-3-3. They'll pass the ball around, but I think they're a lot like us. They like to hold possession of the ball, but if they see the quick strike they're gonna go for it. SEMO lost some players from last year due to graduation, so they have a chance to be a real wild card this year. It hink it will be a good physical conference match. They need a win just a bad as we do to help stay alive. We just have to play our game."
Scouting UT Martin
- UT Martin owns a 9-5-3 overall record this season.
- The Skyhawks lead the OVC race, sitting at 6-1-1 in conference play with the sole loss coming at SIUE.
- Sunday's match will mark the 17th meeting between the two teams, with Tech owning a slight 8-7-1 advantage.
- UTM defeated TTU 2-0 in last season's meeting in Martin, Tenn.
- Saphyra Coombs-James leads the socring race for UT Martin, notching eight goals this seson, along with four assists for a team leading 20 points.
- Mariah Kelenke leads the Skyhawks saving efforts, leading the team with 70 saves and four shut-outs this season.
Daniel Brizard on the Skyhawks "UT Martin is always physical as far as working hard and getting 50-50's. They're a real hard working team. I think they'll play a little more direct into the forward's feet. They play a lot more longer balls than SEMO, but I think they'll still be a 4-3-3. We'll just have to deal with it and hope that we can put a good performance forward on Sunday."