By Dylan Vazzano, Sports Information Coordinator
MARTIN, Tenn. – A thriller that went down to the wire swung in favor of the Tennessee Tech soccer team as the Golden Eagles scored within the final 10 minutes to capture an exhilarating 2-1 win at UT Martin. Tech (8-5-3, 4-1-2) ends its weekend with a perfect 2-0-0 record, following a 1-0 victory over Southeast Missouri Friday in Cookeville.
Deadlocked at 1-1 in the 81st minute, freshman Nora Vicsek drilled one from the top of the box and into the top left corner of the net, propelling TTU to a late lead that the Golden Eagles would not relinquish. Vicsek's third goal of the season was the Budapest, Hungary native's second-straight game winner after the 5-foot-6 freshman split the pipes in Friday's 1-0 nod against SEMO.
"It's always tough playing on the road in conference and it's something that we have struggled with over the last few years, so to come into a tough place to play against a quality opponent, and come out with a win was important for us," Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "It was a hard-fought conference game, especially against a team that was hungry trying to stay in the hunt. I'm proud of our team and happy with our player's efforts."
Vicsek's winner was made possible behind a fellow freshman's efforts as Dani Shartouny assisted on the difference maker with a pass towards the top of the box. Shartouny also played a pivotal role on Tech's first score, assisting on the first career goal by junior Michaella Keyes, a strike that slipped inside the far side post to break a scoreless tie in the 39th minute.
"I'm excited that both of our goals came from two of the players we targeted this afternoon," Springthorpe said. "Nora had a nice strike from the top of the box, and in the first half, Michaella had a beautiful ball that went far post. It was great that our forwards capitalized on their opportunities, and at the same time, it was great that our defense stepped up. Once again, I'm proud of our team and their efforts."
The Golden Eagle defense blanked an opponent in the first half for the 15th time in 16 possible matches, limiting the Skyhawks (4-12-0, 1-7-0) to only three first period shots. Overall, Tech outshot UTM, 14-8, paced by four from Vicsek. A trio of Skyhawks each collected a team-high three attempts as sophomores Maggie Burkett and Shannon Grattan, along with senior Saphyra Coombs-James all notched a pair.
Coombs-James' second attempt proved to be the tilt's equalizer after receiving a cross in the box from sophomore Katelyn Colvin, before burying her sixth goal of the season in the 56th minute. Colvin registered the assist on the tying goal.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann had three saves in the match, while fellow sophomore MaKenzie Crawford stopped six Tech shots.
With three matches remaining in the regular season, the Golden Eagles return home for back-to-back weekend matches. On Friday Tech will host SIU Edwardsville at 3 p.m. CT, before locking up with Eastern Illinois Sunday at 1 p.m. in the home finale. Sunday's match is Senior Day and will feature a special pre-match ceremony honoring all of TTU's seniors.
Photo by Jim Dillon