By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - The Tennessee Tech soccer team smacked an exclamation point next to its Ohio Valley Conference opener Friday, coming away with a dramatic 1-0 win on the road at SIU Edwardsville.
The match also featured Golden Eagle senior Leigh Heffner passing the Tennessee Tech all-time mark for minutes played, beating out Taren Brown's ('10) record of 6,244 minutes played in a career.
The Cougars (6-2-2, 0-1-0) came into the match riding a string of eight consecutive tilts without a loss, spanning all the way back to the team's first affair way back on Aug. 23. For Tech, (3-7-0, 1-0-0) none of that seemed to matter under the lights at Ralph Korte Stadium, as the Golden Eagles used a Shannon Rountree 21st minute goal, an incredibly stingy defense, and a remarkable performance by sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Brown to earn the thrilling victory.
"This team dug deep and decided that they weren't going to give up and find a way to win this match," fourth-year head coach Daniel Brizard said on the evening's hard-fought win. "The defensive unit with the five in the back of Kalyn [Pruett], Micki [Dye], Taylor [Hicks], Katie [Phillips], and Leigh [Heffner] were fantastic. Jordan came up with a couple of huge saves as well, and played a great game. Overall it was an all-around team win."
Rountree's difference-making score marked the second straight match in which she has provided the tilt's only goal in a Tech victory. Not even a week ago, the senior from Tamarac, Fla., split the pipes in the third minute to help dispose of East Tennessee State in a 1-0 Golden Eagle win last Sunday.
Friday night, thanks to an Ellie Iaciofano pass, Rountree let one loose from 20 yards out that eluded the try of Cougar's goalkeeper Jennifer Pelley to give TTU its 1-0 advantage. On the score, Iaciofano made it three straight matches in which the Loveland, Ohio native has picked up an assist.
Brown made it back-to-back shutouts with her 10-save effort, as the 5-foot-7 sophomore now has five in her year-and-a-half career. The double digit save showing also marked the third time this season in which Brown has had at least 10 saves in a match.
Brown's 10 halts didn't even include an SIUE opportunity midway through the first period, when Cougar freshman Kayla Delgado headed one into the cross bar on a pass from junior Samantha Jones. Ultimately, it seemed to be Tech's night.
The Golden Eagles will try to make it three straight, as they close out their conference-opening weekend road trip at Eastern Illinois on Sunday with a 12 p.m. CDT start.