By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Efficiency was the key for the Tennessee Tech soccer team Friday evening, as the Golden Eagles (5-4-1, 2-1-1) claimed a 2-1 victory over in-state and Ohio Valley Conference rival Belmont (6-4-1, 2-2-0) at E.S. Rose Park in Nashville.
The Tech attack took advantage of its opportunities, capitalizing on two of just three shots on goal on the night. In fact, Belmont's offense doubled its chances over that of Tech, but the Golden Eagle defense proved once again to be the cream of the crop in the OVC.
The Bruins mustered 19 shots and seven shots on goal, but junior goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann and the Tech defense kept the home squad relatively at bay. The two-time reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Year, Naerdemann made six saves on the night, matching her second-highest total of the year.
The Golden Eagles wasted little time jumping on the scoreboard, using a marker from junior midfielder Mayra Tarraga Manzanal in the fifth minute to take a 1-0 lead. The Gerona, Spain native notched her first goal of the season, running down a pass launched from beyond midfield from senior Karigan Owens, corralling it on once bounce and popping it over a rushing goalkeeper's head from just outside the box. Owens earned her first assist of the year on the play.
Belmont snagged the equalizer in the 36th minute of the first half, gathering a goal very similar to Tech's. Creaghan Diekema ran down a through ball just outside the box and chipped it over the head of Naerdemann, who charged forward on the play trying to clear the zone.
The two sides headed into the half, tied at 1-1.
It would not remain that way for long. The Golden Eagles came out of the break on a mission and quickly took back control on the scoreboard, scoring in the 48th minute. The offense worked the ball forward, with Cookeville-native Kendall Powell controlling a loose ball in the Belmont half of the pitch.
The freshman then chipped the ball over to Tarraga Manzanal. The midfielder dribbled the ball forward a few feet, enticing the goalkeeper forward to the edge of the box. Then, at the last possible second, she nonchalantly tapped a pass over to a wide open Dani Shartouny.
All the sophomore forward had to do was dribble the ball into a wide open net, scoring her second goal of the season. Both Tarraga Manzanal and Powell gathered assists on the play, leading to a 2-1 advantage for the Golden Eagles.
For the remaining 42 minutes, the defense was on full display. Naerdemann made all six of her saves in the second half while the Golden Eagle back line held off a Belmont attack that launched 10 total shots.
With the victory, the Golden Eagles moved to 2-1-1 in OVC play heading into another challenging conference match-up on Sunday, Oct. 1. Tech will play host to in-state foe Austin Peay in a 6 p.m. CT bout under the lights of Tech Soccer Field.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information