By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With just five matches remaining in the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference season, the Tennessee Tech soccer team marches into a critical weekend of action as the Golden Eagles (3-10-1, 1-3-1) prepare for a pair of conference battles.
On Friday, TTU plays host to the defending OVC Champion, UT Martin, at 3 p.m. CDT, before jumping right back on the road to clash with Southeast Missouri, Sunday at 1 p.m. CDT.
"It's very important for us to get some points here in the next few days," fourth-year head coach Daniel Brizard claimed. "We have five matches left in the conference season, so we have to find a way to get as many points as we can and finish strong to make it into the conference tournament."
The Golden Eagles come into the weekend with some momentum after snapping a three-match losing streak this past Sunday with a scoreless draw at Jacksonville State. Tech battled through 25 Gamecock shots in pitching a shutout, thanks in large part to the stellar performance of sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Brown and her 10 saves. The double-digit stop effort was her fourth this season, while the shutout was number three on the year for the League City, Texas native.
"It was nice to snap our three-match losing streak with a hard-fought tie on Sunday," Brizard said on the team's last tilt. "It came down to two teams that needed a point so at least we were able to get one. I think it helps our confidence going into the week of training and weekend of games. So far the mood during practice this week has been good."
If TTU is to climb its way up the OVC ladder, it will have to do it against two of the top six teams in the conference in UT Martin and Southeast Missouri. The Skyhawks (6-7-1, 4-1-0) are currently in third, and are coming off a 2012 championship campaign in which they posted a sparkling 8-1-1 conference record, before capturing the tournament title behind a 2-0 championship-match victory over Austin Peay.
UT Martin comes to Cookeville scorching, having won four consecutive conference matches after dropping its opening OVC affair, 2-1, to Austin Peay. Throughout the quartet of tilts, the Skyhawks have outscored their opponents 9-2, highlighted by a pair of shutout wins over the weekend against Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky that led to junior Lucy Pater earning the OVC Defensive Player of the Week award.
"UT Martin is definitely a strong team to face, but they are not unbeatable," Brizard said. "We just have to worry about our game and take care of our business."
Southeast Missouri (4-5-3, 2-1-2) will welcome in the Golden Eagles on Sunday as part of a two-match homestand that begins with a matchup against seventh-place Belmont on Friday.
The Redhawks hold the coveted final playoff spot with their sixth-place position in the OVC, as TTU is just on the outside looking in, sitting in eighth-place.
SEMO is coming off a winless weekend with a 5-2 loss at Morehead State on Sunday, and a scoreless tie at Eastern Kentucky on Friday.
"Looking into this weekend, keys for success are still effort and heart," Brizard said. "We know we can play soccer, sometimes we just come out a little slow. We need to focus on starting off better and going from there."
Both matches will be live-streamed on the OVC Digital Network. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.