By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With just three matches remaining in the regular season, the Tennessee Tech soccer team gets set for a pair of home tilts this weekend in its final bid at making the Ohio Valley Conference postseason tournament. Still alive in their hunt for playoff soccer, the Golden Eagles (3-12-1, 1-5-1) sit in 9th place as they prepare for home matchups with Morehead State on Friday at 3 p.m. CDT and Eastern Kentucky on Sunday at 2 p.m. CDT.
“We just have to win at this point, there are no two ways about it,” fourth-year head coach Daniel Brizard said on the weekend’s crucial battles. “We have been close in a lot of matches lately, we just can’t seem to put the finishing touches on them. Obviously, it’s been frustrating, but we still have to go out there and play the game.”
The Golden Eagles come into Friday’s affair against Morehead State having dropped consecutive matches last weekend, falling 2-1 in double-overtime to UT Martin at home on Friday, before going on the road and slipping 1-0 to Southeast Missouri on Sunday.
Friday’s match featured an incredible Tech comeback as senior Ellie Iaciofano erased a 1-0 deficit, scoring with only six seconds left to send it into overtime before TTU would eventually fall in the second OT. Sunday’s clash with SEMO was all about defense, as the two teams combined for just 17 shots in the 1-0 loss.
The two one-score matches continued a season-long trend for Tech, as 10 of the Golden Eagles' 16 clashes have been decided by one goal or have ended in a tie.
As far as this weekend is concerned, Brizard cited confidence and attitude as key factors for success.
“We need to insert our personality more, at times we play not to lose instead of to win, and if you play not to lose then chances are you will,” Brizard said. “We need to go out there and play with some confidence. We showed last Friday that we have the ability to come back as long as we put forth the effort. It was unfortunate that we lost in double-overtime, but ultimately we just have to get it together and play.”
TTU welcomes in a red-hot Morehead State team on Friday to the Tech Soccer Field, with the Eagles (6-9-1, 5-2-0) entering Cookeville on a three-match winning streak. Morehead took out both Austin Peay and Murray State last weekend, thanks in large part to the play of junior forward Jade Flory.
The native of Chambersburg, Pa., roped in three goals in the Eagles' pair of victories, leading her to this week’s OVC Offensive Player of the Week selection, Flory’s third this year.
Morehead is currently in third place in the conference, while Tech’s second opponent of the weekend, Eastern Kentucky, is sitting in seventh place in the OVC.
The Colonels (4-10-2, 3-3-1) are coming off a perfect weekend with a 2-0 win over Murray State on Friday, and a 3-2 nod over Austin Peay on Sunday. EKU will welcome in Belmont to Richmond, Ky., Friday before traveling to Tech, as the Colonels will finally close out a string of five consecutive home matches.
The Golden Eagles were tripped up 2-0 at Eastern Kentucky last year, but did get the better of Morehead State with a 1-0 road victory on Oct. 5. Sophomore Taylor Sutton was responsible for the lone goal in last year’s battle, and with five saves on the day, fellow sophomore Jordan Brown earned her third career shutout.
This year Brown leads the OVC with 111 saves, a mark that is good enough for fifth in the nation.
Tech has the upper hand in the all-time series with Morehead State, leading 9-6-2, while EKU has a slight edge over the Golden Eagles by winning five of eight previous matchups.
Both matches will be live streamed on the OVC Digital Network. CLICK HERE TO WATCH