By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Tech soccer team ends its two-match home stand with a split, after falling 3-0 to Western Carolina on an overcast and blustery Sunday afternoon at Tech Soccer Field. A late score in the first half and two more in the second was the difference in the affair as the Catamounts (1-3-2) took home their first win of the season.
After the Golden Eagles (1-4-0) were unable to generate a shot in the first 45 minutes of action, Tech's offense flipped the switch in racking up six shots, including three that were on-goal, and a half dozen other opportunities on crosses and efficient passing.
Trailing 1-0 15 minutes into the second half, Tech nearly capitalized off a Taylor Blazei corner with senior Katie Phillips smacking a pair of shots that were both halted by Catamount sophomore goal keeper Carly Tinstman. The initial header was re-directed by Tinstman before the second Phillips attempt was smacked away and eventually cleared amid heavy traffic with just under 30 minutes remaining in the affair.
Moments after TTU's near equalizer, WCU padded its lead with a set-piece goal with 27:35 to go. Sophomore Taylor Webb's header off a Catamount corner was deflected into the waiting grasps of senior Caitlyn Bradham, who headed it into the back of the net to give Western Carolina a 2-0 lead.
The goal was Bradham's second of the season, while Webb was credited with her first assist of the year.
The Catamounts would add a late insurance goal with 12 minutes left in the tilt, scoring their second straight set-piece goal. Sophomore Haven Leland connected with red-shirt junior Kimberly Sullivan off of a corner to extend the WCU mark to 3-0. Both the Sullivan goal and Leland assist were their firsts of the season.
"We need to learn from this and play a little more like we did in the second half," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe remarked shortly after the match. "We need to be more physical and find a way to create more opportunities up top which we were able to do in the second half, but unfortunately gave up those two set-piece goals."
A busy Golden Eagle defense stayed sturdy for much of the first half behind solid contributions by senior Katie Phillips, sophomore Kalyn Pruett, and freshman Mary Francis Hoots, until the Catamounts finally struck first on their eighth shot of the half.
With just over three minutes remaining until intermission, red-shirt junior Sara Robinson let loose on one from five yards outside of the box that caromed off the far post, before sliding into the net to break the scoreless tie.
The goal snapped a Golden Eagle defensive stretch of almost 160 minutes of keeping the opposition off the board.
Tennessee Tech now enters a string of eight straight road matches, beginning Friday Sep. 12 with a trip to Chattanooga. All the action is slated to get underway at 6 p.m. CT.