By Dylan Vazzano, Sports Information Coordinator
MURRAY, Ky. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team's unblemished conference record is now a thing of the past after the Golden Eagles fell 1-0 at Murray State for the club's first OVC loss of the year, in a rare Wednesday match, the first for Tech since 2010. The Racers (4-4-2, 3-0-1) scored in the early stages of the second half for the tilt's lone goal as MSU ran its conference unbeaten streak to 16-straight dating back to 2014.
Knotted at 0-0 in the 53rd, senior Ali Critcher collected her first goal of 2016, scoring after the Racers initial bid would not go through on a try from Nyomi Devine. The 5-foot-6 junior's shot caromed away, before Devine gathered and fed Critcher, who tapped it in to break the scoreless affair. Devine was credited with an assist on the play, her first of the season.
"Congratulations to Murray on their win today. I thought overall it was a great battle by two teams that are very similar in play and I thought our team played well," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "We were even at many points in the game and I thought we defended their attack really well. I'm proud of the defensive effort of our back four and I'm proud of our team playing at a tough place on the road at the defending champion and staying toe to toe with them. In the end, Murray found a goal on a set piece and we couldn't find a way to capitalize on our chances."
The Racer net-finder was the first shot of the second half and only fifth of the match after both defenses shined throughout the first 45 minutes of action. Each squad produced only two first-half shots with the Golden Eagles (6-5-2, 2-1-1) accounting for the only shot on-goal, a Kaitie Shipley attempt in the 39th minute that was gobbled up by sophomore Alex Steigerwald.
Steigerwald would end up stopping four Tech shots en route to the shutout, while fellow sophomore Kari Naerdemann halted three across the way.
TTU has now shut out an opponent in the first half in 12 of its 13 matches this season.
Murray State held a 10-7 edge in the shots department, paced by junior Harriet Withers' four. Senior Kalyn Pruett was the only Golden Eagle with at least two shots, peppering both of her tries on-goal.
Tech will end its season-long three-match road trip Sunday afternoon, connecting with Austin Peay for a 1 p.m. CT start time in Clarksville.
"I'm encouraged by today," Springthorpe said. "We showed a competitive spirit that we have and now we will set our sights on Austin Peay Sunday, where I hope we have the same intensity and competitive nature that we showed today."
Photo by Jim Dillon