By Dylan Vazzano, Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Following a weekend that saw the Tennessee Tech soccer team collect a pair of shutout victories, senior midfielder Abi Gearing was recognized as the adidas® OVC Defensive Player of the Week Tuesday afternoon. The distinction marks the fifth Player of the Week honor this season for the Golden Eagles, and the third defensive one.
Gearing was on the field for all 180 minutes in the pair of victories as Tech blanked SIU Edwardsville Friday and Eastern Illinois Sunday, limiting the Panthers to just three total shots. The two shutouts ran TTU's total to nine this season, putting the Golden Eagles in a tie for first in the OVC.
Gearing also found the back of the net Sunday afternoon on Senior Day, scoring in the 74th minute on a header in the box that pushed Tech's advantage to 2-0, essentially putting the match on ice. The Libertyville, Ill. native's goal was her team-leading sixth of the season, a mark that is good enough for seventh in the conference.
"We're excited for Abi. I think the award is deserving after the great weekend she just had for us," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "She did a number of different things for us. Of course scoring a goal on Sunday, but also helping our team get two shutouts, and certainly doing it on her senior weekend was great to see. We are thankful to the OVC for this honor, and I know that the team is excited for her."
Gearing and the rest of the Golden Eagles will be at Eastern Kentucky Thursday afternoon for the regular season finale, clashing with the Colonels at 2 p.m. CT. A Golden Eagle victory guarantees Tech the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye straight to the semifinals in the OVC Tournament. A TTU win coupled with a Murray State loss on Thursday, and the Golden Eagles will be crowned co-OVC regular season champions. A tie or a loss, and Tech will be the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, and will host a first round playoff match Sunday.
Others Nominated: Mary Ruth Locastro, Austin Peay; Kacy Eckley, Eastern Kentucky; Angela Black, Morehead State; Ali Critcher Murray State; Paige Blankenheim, Southeast Missouri
Taylor Richerson, F, 5-4, Sr., Murray, Ky. - Murray State
Richerson scored a pair of game winners in the Racers' victories over Jacksonville State and Belmont in 1-0 victories. For the week, she took seven shots and put six on goal.
Ashley Ritchie, F, 5-6, Fr., New Haven, Ky. - Morehead State
Ritchie scored all three of Morehead State's goals in the Eagles' final two matches of the season, including a game-winning two-goal performance in overtime at UT Martin. All eight of Ritchie's shots over the two-game stretch were on goal. The 5-foot-6 true freshman led the team in goals (8), points (18), shots (47), shots on goal (23), and game-winning goals (2) this season.
Alex Steigerwald, GK, 5-8, So., West Chester, Ohio - Murray State
Steigerwald recorded her 5th and 6th shutouts of the season in Murray State wins over Jacksonville State and Belmont. She played 184 minutes and stopped all 10 shots she faced.
Photo by Jim Dillon