By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Armed with a week of the 2015 season already under its belt, the Tennessee Tech soccer team revs it up for a challenging weekend slate of action. On Friday, the Golden Eagles (0-2-0) will head on the road for the first time this year, locking up with East Tennessee State (2-0-0) at 6 p.m. CT, before coming back to Tech Soccer Field for a Sunday evening matchup with the University of Alabama. Kickoff with the Crimson Tide (1-1-0) is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Sunday's match with Alabama will be broadcast live on the Golden Eagle Sports Network via the Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.
Excitement took center stage in TTU's first two matches of the 2015 campaign, with both tilts running right down to the wire. Amidst a Tech Soccer Field record crowd of 931 in the season-opener, and first ever home night match in program history against Little Rock on Aug. 21, three late-goals highlighted the dramatics as the Golden Eagles were ultimately downed 2-1.
Trailing 1-0 inside the match's final 10 minutes, Tech displayed resiliency behind a Taylor Blazei equalizing score for TTU's first goal of the season. After a nifty move from the edge of the box, the 5-foot-7 senior let one loose that caromed off the near post and whistled into the back of the net to deadlock the score.
Blazei's quick start offensively continued a promising trend for the Hartford, Wis. native after leading the Golden Eagles in a number of offensive categories in 2014, including assists, points, shots, shots on-goal, and finished tied for first in goals.
Despite a double OT, 1-0 loss in Sunday's match against Middle Tennessee, Tech held a normally explosive Blue Raider offense scoreless well into the second overtime. In fact, the strong defensive effort by the Golden Eagles marked the first time in the last nine matches with MTSU that Tech has held the Blue Raiders to under two scores.
Four Golden Eagle defenders have played in all 194 minutes on the season, with junior Kalyn Pruett, sophomores Mary Francis Hoots and Lauren Brewer, and freshman Alyssa Montgomery taking care of the honors.
From inside the net, freshman Kari Naerdemann has had a stellar start to her collegiate career as the 5-foot-9 goalkeeper has stopped 18 of a potential 21 shots on the young season for an .857 save-percentage.
East Tennessee State prepares for its home opener after building a nice beginning to its 2015 campaign thanks to a pair of road victories over USC Upstate and Radford. So far the Buccaneers have outscored their opponents 5-1, highlighted by two goals and one assist from senior midfielder Sarah Zadrazil.
Zadrazil enters the year after a strong 2014 that featured eight goals, 36 points, and a team-best 20 assists, helping lead ETSU to a 15-6 overall record.
Between the pipes, junior Jasmine Elliott has allowed just one goal and has racked up seven saves over the first two matches, accumulating an .875 save-percentage in the process.
ETSU leads the all-time series with Tech, 5-4-3.
Alabama's trip to Tech Soccer Field will mark the first ever visit by an SEC school to Cookeville. The Tide have split their first two matches in 2015, falling 1-0 at Memphis to christen the year on Aug. 21, before slipping past Troy at home, 1-0, on Aug. 23.
Sophomore Alexis Mouton broke a scoreless tie in the 77th minute with Troy on Sunday, smacking one into the lower left corner of the net after receiving a feed from fellow sophomore Chatham DeProspo, who was credited with the assist on the play.
Senior goalkeeper Emily Rusk has yielded one goal and fended off eight shots for an .889 save-percentage over the course of the first two affairs, pitching a shutout in the win over Troy.
Before heading to Tech on Sunday, the Tide will welcome in Wake Forest for a 7 p.m. Friday showdown with the Demon Deacons.
Alabama has won both previous meetings with the Golden Eagles with nods back in 2003 and 1997.
Admission to all Golden Eagle home regular season matches is free of charge.