COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Tech soccer team came up short in its comeback attempt against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee Friday afternoon, falling in a roller coaster of a match 3-2.
Middle Tennessee started things early, scoring twice in the first fifteen minutes with a barrage of five shots-on-goal, eight total shots, and six corner kicks.
The Tech offense came to life following the second Blue Raider goal, controlling the ball better and forcing MTSU to play more towards its own net. Junior forward Ellie Iaciofano headed in her fourth goal of the season off of a pass from fellow junior Taylor Hicks to cut the lead in half. The goal, which came in the 34th minute was Iaciofano's fourth of the season and helped shift a large portion of momentum back to the Golden Eagle sidelines.
Just six minutes into the second half, Iaciofano struck again, making a nifty move following a Chelsea Ladd assist and landed the ball into the back of the net to tie the match at 2-2. Iaciofano's fifth goal of the season was also her fourth in the last three games and looked to have made up for the slow start by the Golden Eagles.
Less than two minutes later, Middle Tennessee answered back. The Blue Raiders took a 3-2 advantage on the back of a rebound goal that richocheted off the post following an incredible diving save by freshman goalkeeper Jordan Brown. The Blue Raiders would hold off the Golden Eagle attack for the rest of the match to earn their fourth victory of the season.
"The whole game came down to that first 15 minutes where we just couldn't figure it out," said head coach Daniel Brizard. "That first 15 hurt us. We did fantastic to come back and score two goals, but you can't give up two goals like that in the first 15 minutes, especially against a team like that."
With the team traveling to North Carolina to face Western Carolina on Sunday in a 1 p.m. CT match-up, Brizard knows that it will take a quick improvement to garner better results and will look for the team to play more like the team he knows they can be.
"I'm looking to see the team we had 15 minutes into the game today," said Brizard. "That's the team we've been trying to get all year, but it's like doing a kitchen remodel. You can make your kitchen as nice as possible, but if you still have a leaky sink it's not going to be any good. That first 15 minutes is our leaky sink and we need to correct that going into Western Carolina."
"I believe in this team. It's a good team. Last year we wouldn't have scored those two goals. We would have folded after that first 15 minutes. We showed some character to come back and I think against Western we have to show that character for the full 90 minutes and get the job done. We're going to have another good battle and hopefully we can get it done."
The defense played another solid match following the first two goals, allowing just 11 shots-on-goal despite 24 shot attempts by the Blue Raiders. Despite missing senior defender and back line leader Leigh Heffner, the Golden Eagles cleaned up the mess quicker, allowing just eight shots in the second half. Brown gathered up eight saves in the contest, including several acrobatic, diving stops.
Iaciofano, who recorded her first multi-goal game of her career in last Friday's match against Northern Kentucky, again made her presence felt, notching her second two-score game of the season. Her five goals and 11 points leads the Golden Eagles in both categories and puts her among the OVC leaders as well.