By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With the regular season nearing its conclusion, the Tennessee Tech soccer team gets set to embark on a crucial weekend of Ohio Valley Conference action. Staring at trio of matches left on the slate, the Golden Eagles (7-6-3, 5-2-0) host UT Martin (5-10-0, 3-4-0) Thursday evening at 7 p.m. CT, before hitting the pavement for the final road match of the regular season with a 1 p.m. Sunday affair at Southeast Missouri (8-5-3, 3-2-2).
Both matches will be broadcast live on the Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.
Tech heads toward the finish line of the regular season currently sitting in a tie with Morehead State for second place in the OVC. The top six teams make the postseason tournament, with the top two clubs advancing straight to the semifinals with a first round bye. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds host a first round playoff matchup on Nov. 1.
The Golden Eagles split their pair of OVC tilts over the weekend, highlighted by a Thursday thriller at Tech Soccer Field that saw TTU capture a double overtime victory over Austin Peay. Squared away at 1-1 in the early stages of the second OT, sophomore Karigan Owens drilled a free kick from 35 yards out to send the Golden Eagles into the win column with the club's fifth OVC win of the season, the most in program history.
Owens' score, which was coupled with an assist for her earlier in the match, continued a red-hot pace for the La Grange, Ky. native that has featured points in six of the last eight matches with five assists and two points over that stretch. Overall, Owens' nine points put her in a tie with junior Abi Gearing for the most on the club, while her five assists knots Owens with Morehead State's Dani Wilson for the most in the conference.
Although TTU was unable to squeeze out a win in Sunday's tilt with Murray State in a battle between the top two teams in the conference, Tech showcased more of its balanced offensive attack behind a Mackenzie Miller goal in the 69th minute, the first of her career. The 5-foot-3 senior's goal on her Senior Day marked the ninth Golden Eagle to score this season. Fellow senior Taylor Sutton registered an assist on the goal, the sixth different Tech player to notch an assist this year.
Defensively, the 2-1 loss to Murray State was just the third time this season that TTU has yielded more than one goal in a match, and first time in a month. Overall, the Golden Eagles are second in the OVC in goals allowed, surrendering 15 in 16 tilts, and goals against average with a mark of 0.87.
Freshman goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann is currently second in the conference in both save percentage at .847, and shutouts with five.
Preseason No. 3 in the OVC, UT Martin comes to Cookeville on Thursday sitting in sixth place in the conference with a 3-4 record. UTM recently snapped its four-match losing streak in the club's last time out, a 3-1 win against Belmont on Sunday. The match featured scores from three different Skyhawks as Maggie Burkett, Sierra Franz, and Saphyra Coombs-James all clipped the back of the net.
Coombs-James is the Skyhawk leader in goals (6), assists (3), and points (15).
UT Martin leads the all-time series with Tech, 10-8-1.
Before hosting the Golden Eagles on Sunday, Southeast Missouri will square off with Morehead State on Friday in a matchup of two of the top five teams in the OVC. SEMO is currently in fifth place in the conference with a 3-2-2 record, having gone unbeaten in the last three affairs with two wins and a tie.
The Redhawks are in the top three in the OVC in goals allowed (18), goals against average (1.08) and shutouts with an OVC-best eight this season.
Offensively, junior Angie Mann leads the SEMO charge with seven goals and 15 points, landing in a tie for fifth in the OVC with those seven scores.
The Redhawks have controlled the all-time series with the Golden Eagles, accumulating a 12-5-1 record in the set's history.
Admission to all Golden Eagle home regular season matches is free of charge.