By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Despite outshooting and edging Belmont in the corner-kick department, the Tennessee Tech soccer team came up empty in the stat that counts the most, falling 2-0 under sunny skies and warm temperatures at Tech Soccer Field.
The Golden Eagle (2-12-1, 0-5-1) offense had their chances throughout the course of Friday's affair, holding a 17-13 shot discrepancy over Belmont (5-5-4, 2-2-2), including a trio of attempts that hit the crossbar to keep Tech off the board. The 17 shots tie the second highest total in a match this season for the Golden Eagles.
Tech nearly broke through on three separate occasions of kicking off the scoring in the opening stanza, the first try coming in the 16th minute on a Tarah Piccirilli chance. The 5-foot-8 sophomore just missed making it back-to-back matches with a goal after finding herself on a breakaway, but couldn't convert thanks to a fingertip save by Belmont junior goalkeeper Lindsey Espe, who just glanced it enough to deflect it out of bounds.
Moments later in the 22nd minute, freshman Karigan Owens rocketed one from just outside the box that sailed inches over the crossbar, keeping the match preserved at 0-0. Tech came up just short once again in the 39th minute after a Taylor Blazei missile from a good 15 yards outside the box nicked the bottom of the crossbar, ricocheted toward senior Amanda Koch, before her shot was somehow gobbled up on a nifty save made by Espe to deny the Golden Eagles a lead.
Espe would go on to notch five saves in the shutout effort, while Tech's Rebecca Toler logged four stops over the course of 90 minutes.
After the three near misses, it seemed as if the match was destined to be scoreless at the half, but Belmont had other ideas. With only 24 seconds left until intermission, junior Cassie Blase chipped one over the top of the Tech defense and right to junior Syndey Scheben, who buried it past the try of Toler to give the Bruins a 1-0 advantage at the half. The score was the first of the season for the Union, Ky. native, while Blase was credited with her second assist of the year.
Belmont padded its lead midway through the second period, scoring on a Meg Howard goal in the 66th minute for her second of the season. The sophomore mid-fielder capitalized on a loose ball in the box, before splitting the pipes to give the Bruins a 2-0 edge.
Having already done it once, Tech would hit the crossbar two more times in the second half, the first of which came off the shoes of sophomore Kalyn Pruett that would have tied the match in the 64th minute, while the second one came in the 78th minute off a Tarah Piccirilli rocket that would have trimmed the deficit in half.
Piccirilli ended the match with four shots, one off the pace of junior Taylor Blazei's match-high five.
The Golden Eagles now head to Austin Peay for their final road tilt of the year, kicking things off from Clarksville, Tenn. at 2 p.m. CT.