By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With the Tennessee Tech soccer team locked up in the heart of the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference schedule, the Golden Eagles return home for a pair of matchups this weekend. TTU (3-8-0, 1-1-0) will play host to Austin Peay on Friday at 3 p.m. CDT, before closing out the weekend with a clash against Murray State on Sunday at 2 p.m. CDT.
The two home matches will begin a stretch of five of the next seven at Tech Soccer Field, after the Golden Eagles spent seven of the last eight matches away from Cookeville.
“It’s nice to be playing at home and it’s definitely nice for our team, but in the end we have to win no matter where we are playing,” fourth-year head coach Daniel Brizard said on his team suiting up in front of the Tech faithful.
The Golden Eagles enter the weekend tied for sixth in the conference, after coming away with a split to kick off OVC play last weekend. Tech marched into SIU Edwardsville on Friday, and with a 1-0 victory, snapped the Cougars' impressive run of eight straight matches without a loss, spanning all the way back to the team’s first affair way back on Aug. 23.
Senior Shannon Rountree accounted for the tilt’s lone goal, and with 10 saves by sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Brown, the League City, Texas native notched her fifth career shutout in TTU purple and gold.
Sunday’s battle at Eastern Illinois featured a Panther spurt of three late first half goals in a stretch of just two minutes, as the Golden Eagles eventually fell, 4-2.
“We really saw both sides of the coin this past weekend,” Brizard said on his squad’s first OVC week of action. “On Friday we learned that we can beat any team we play against, and then on Sunday I believe we learned that sometimes we take too much for granted after going up 1-0 in that match.”
Austin Peay (6-1-2, 1-0-1) brings a prolific offensive attack into Friday afternoon’s match, as the Governors currently lead the OVC in goals with 18, despite playing two less matches than five other teams in the conference. APSU is led by the dynamic goal scoring duo of senior Tatiana Ariza and freshman Gina Farbro, as Ariza sits atop the OVC with eight goals and 18 points, and Farbro is tied for fourth in the conference with five goals and tied for fifth with 10 points.
Ariza was also responsible for scoring both goals in last year’s matchup with these two clubs, leading Austin Peay to a 2-0 home victory on Oct. 19.
“She’s definitely a quality player,” Brizard said when asked about Ariza. “Austin Peay has a number of quality players but they are no different than some of the other teams we have played. We still have to take care of what we do and try to shut them down.”
Tech leads the all-time series with the Governors 8-3-0, but APSU has gotten the better of the Golden Eagles in two of the last three battles.
As far as Murray State (3-5-1, 0-2-0) is concerned, the Racers are one of two teams in the OVC to drop both of its first two conference matches, joining Jacksonville State in that department. MSU lost twice at home last weekend, falling 1-0 to Southeast Missouri on Friday, and 2-1 to UT Martin on Sunday.
The Racers will square off at Belmont on Friday at 5 p.m. CDT in preparation for Sunday’s affair with Tech.
Sunday will mark the 16th time the two teams will meet, and so far nothing has been decided with an all-time series record of 7-7-1. The Golden Eagles evened things up last time the two squads got together, as Tech earned a hard fought 2-1 road win on Oct. 21 of last year. Senior Ellie Iaciofano had two assists in the match, while sophomore Jordan Brown recorded five saves in the win.
This year Iaciofano is currently tied with Murray State senior Rebecca Bjorkvall with a conference-leading four assists. Brown is number one in the OVC with 76 saves, a mark that puts her sixth in the country.
Both matches will be live streamed on the OVC Digital Network presented and produced by the Golden Eagles Sports Network. Click here to watch.