By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Having just kicked off its 2017 home slate behind a 1-0 win over Western Carolina, the Tennessee Tech soccer team will look to keep the ball rolling with a pair of weekend matches in Cookeville. On Friday at 7 p.m. CT, the Golden Eagles renew their rivalry with Middle Tennessee at Tech Soccer Field, before tying a ribbon on an early season three-match home stand with a Sunday affair against Georgia State, beginning at 1 p.m.
Tech (2-1-0) is riding high into the weekend thanks to two-straight wins, carding consecutive shutout nods over Western Carolina (Aug. 27) and East Tennessee State (Aug. 20). In fact, the Golden Eagles have yet to allow a goal in regulation in their first three matches of the year, with only a Vanderbilt score in overtime in the season-opener serving as the lone blemish in a campaign highlighted by lights out defense thus far.
Junior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann, who claimed the year's first OVC Goalkeeper of the Week honor, has registered back-to-back shutouts to run her career mark and program record to 20. The Herne, Germany native has collected 13 saves in the last two matches, including five halts in TTU's home-opening victory over Western Carolina on Sunday, a nod that pushed Tech's win streak in Cookeville to seven in a row dating back to last September.
Offensively, youth has helped lead the charge with two sophomores and a pair of freshmen accounting for all of Tech's points in the early stages of the season. Sophomore Dani Shartouny netted the game-winning score in Sunday's 1-0 victory over Western Carolina, assisted by freshman, and Cookeville native, Kendall Powell. In TTU's 1-0 nod at ETSU on Aug. 20, sophomore Nora Vicsek produced the lone goal, thanks in large part to freshman Viviana Lomeli's assist.
Middle Tennessee's battle with Tech will serve as the finale of four straight against OVC schools to begin the season for the Blue Raiders. MTSU (0-3-0) has yet to check the win column in 2017, as the Blue Raiders have fallen 3-2 at Belmont (Aug. 18), 2-1 in overtime at home to Austin Peay (Aug. 20) and 4-1 at Jacksonville State (Aug. 25).
Freshman Peyton DePriest has split the pipes twice the year, the lone Blue Raider with more than one score. The Franklin, Tenn. native is tied with junior Charlotte Van Ishoven for the most shots on the team with eight.
Middle Tennessee leads the all-time series, 15-3; however the Golden Eagles have the last laugh with a 3-0 win in Murfreesboro in 2016. Karigan Owens enjoyed a four-point evening with a goal and two assists, while Kari Naerdemann fended off four shots en route to a shutout victory.
Prior to its match in Cookeville on Sunday, Georgia State will lock up with Austin Peay in the second of three in a row against OVC schools. The Panthers (1-2-1) head into the weekend fresh off a scoreless draw Sunday at Jacksonville State, the club's second-consecutive shutout, following a 3-0 blanking over Southeast Louisiana on Aug. 25.
GSU holds the upper hand in the all-time series behind a 5-1-1 mark, although Tech has earned a tie and a win in the last two meetings with the Panthers. In 2015 the squads played to a 1-1 deadlock in Atlanta, and in 2014 the Golden Eagles captured a 1-0 victory in the last Cookeville matchup between the two clubs.
Admission to all Tech home regular season matches is free of charge.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information