August 23, 2013

Owls fly higher in Golden Eagle soccer team’s 2013 season opener


By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Locked up in a defensive struggle in the Golden Eagle soccer team's season opening clash, Tennessee Tech blinked first.  A 55th minute score by Kennesaw State's Brittney Reed proved to be the difference, as the Golden Eagles (0-1) were upended 1-0 in a soggy evening at Regal Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee.

Tech's defense came to play in the first stanza, surviving an Owls (1-0) attack that smacked 10 shots, five of which were on goal.  Sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Brown set the tone early, making a pair of clutch saves within the tilt's first five minutes, eventually wrapping up the first half with five stops to keep KSU off the board. 

"Jordan and the back line of the defense played great today," commented fourth year head coach Daniel Brizard.  "We knew Kennesaw State was a good team that could do a lot of things offensively.  Ultimately we couldn't continue to have Jordan and the back line of our defense under siege because eventually a goal was bound to happen." 

That goal came in the 55th minute when the aforementioned Brittney Reed slipped one past Brown from 25 yards out. 

Credit the Golden Eagles though, as Tech refused to go down quietly.  A pair of late opportunities by senior forward Ellie Iaciofano almost provided the equalizer, but the Loveland, Ohio native was denied on both occasions.

With just over six minutes remaining in the match, Iaciofano found herself inside the box with the ball at her shoe tops, but thanks to a brilliant save by the Owls' Olivia Sturdivant, Tech was kept off the board. 

Less than a minute later, Iaciofano was at it again.  This time the 6'0" forward collided with Sturdivant inside the box, resulting in a yellow card.  The ball would find the back of the net, but because of the foul, the goal was disallowed.  Iaciofano finished with two of the Golden Eagles four shots, including the only one on goal. 

Sturdivant would close out her evening with one save, while Tech's Jordan Brown ended with seven halts in eight chances. 

"We had some opportunities toward the end, but we need to find a way to play like that for most of the game, not just the last ten minutes," said Brizard.  "Had we played that way from the start, maybe the outcome would have been different."

Not to be lost in all the action was the 2013 debut of red-shirt senior Leigh Heffner.  The defender from Golden, Colo. played in just six matches last year due to a season ending injury, but came back for the opener to play in all 90 minutes. 

The Golden Eagles will now turn their attention to Sunday's much anticipated home opener.   Tech will welcome in the University of Evansville to Tech Soccer Field, with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.