By Dylan Vazzano, Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Currently in the midst of eight-straight on the road, the Tennessee Tech soccer team embarks to Wright State and Evansville over the weekend to close out the club's 2014 non-conference slate. The Golden Eagles (2-5-0) will clash with Wright State (1-6-0) Friday at 4 p.m. CT, before finishing out the weekend with a matchup at Evansville (5-3-2) Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
After a tough 0-3 start, Tech has come on over the last four matches in posting a 2-2 record. The Golden Eagles looked sharp in a 2-1 win over Chattanooga on Sep. 12, producing a season-high 17 shots, including a team-high four by junior Taylor Blazei who played a role in both TTU scores with a goal and an assist.
"We made that a focus going into the week, we wanted to be more aggressive in our first touch and made it a point to be quicker up top and to take people on," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said on his team's 17-shot outburst. "I would also say that some of that has to do with the formation of the other team and how they play, and the things that they do that might allow for more opportunities to get players forward. For the most part we took advantage of what we trained and took advantage of what was given to us by the other team."
Tech was upended in its next match on Sep. 14, allowing only a penalty shot goal to Arkansas-Little Rock in a 1-0 loss. With the win the Trojans moved to 8-0, outscoring their opponents 35-2 in the process.
"We played a well organized team in Little Rock that was coming in on a high having not lost yet," Springthorpe remarked on the hard-fought defeat. "They have that winning feeling and that's what I would like our team to have. Can we string two games in a row and get some momentum, and know what it takes to win and close out games."
Following the pair of tilts, senior Katie Phillips was named the adidas® Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week. The Cincinnati, Ohio native not only played a pivotal role in helping anchor Tech's sturdy defensive showing, but the 5-foot-9 defender also found the back of the net against Chattanooga, breaking a scoreless tie in the 22nd minute.
Friday's meeting with Wright State with mark the first time that the two schools have locked up. The Raiders come into the matchup having dropped back-to-back 1-0 matches, two of five 1-0 losses this season. Three WSU players have split the pipes this season, with freshman Bryce Hueber, senior Ashley Miltko, and freshman Addie Englehart doing the honors.
Evansville and TTU will meet for the only second time in series-history, with the Purple Aces claiming a 2-1 win in Cookeville last August. Evansville is currently in the midst of three matches in five days, all against OVC opponents after slipping past Southeast Missouri 1-0 on Wednesday and getting ready to host Belmont on Friday.
In 10 matches this season, the Purple Aces have blanked an opponent on seven different occasions, including the last three times out. In fact, Evansville has not allowed a goal in over 310 minutes of action, thanks in large part to the play of junior goalkeeper Simone Busby who has given up only seven scores in nearly 900 minutes between the posts.
"When we go up to Wright State and Evansville we will see two quality teams that we should have a good battle with," Springthorpe said on the final two non-conference matches of the season. "From the beginning, every week has been about learning, improving and getting better, and this week it's the same thing as we get closer to our conference season."