By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
MURRAY, Ky. –The Tennessee Tech soccer team saw one of the best seasons in program history come to a close Friday afternoon, ending in heartbreaking fashion by Eastern Kentucky in the OVC Tournament semifinals.
Nearing penalty kicks with the match squared away at 0-0 and less than two minutes left in double overtime, EKU's Haley Kemper headed one into the back of the net to put a lid on Tech's historical 2017 campaign. The 5-foot-6 midfielder scored off a Colonels' corner, using a serve by Bailly Bounds that connected with Kemper and led to the game-winner. Bounds was credited with an assist on the play.
The goal was the first allowed by the Golden Eagles in the last 685 minutes, a program-record streak that dates all the way back to the third minute of an Oct. 1 win over Austin Peay.
No. 3 EKU (11-4-4) advances to Sunday's championship match and will await the winner of No. 5 Southeast Missouri and No. 1 Murray State in Friday's second semifinal.
The second-seeded Golden Eagles (9-5-3) outshout the Colonels, 12-10, including 5-4 in the pair of extra sessions. Tech nearly produced the game-winner, with a fair share of opportunities toward the end of regulation and throughout each of the two overtimes.
Junior Mayra Tarraga Manzanal almost beat EKU goalkeeper Anna Hall in the 86th minute, but a Hall sliding stop that featured quick reflexes by the Ross, Ohio native kept Tarraga Manzanal's drive at bay. Hall would make one final save in regulation on a Dani Shartouny attempt with less than a minute and a half to go.
Tech came out clicking on all cylinders in the first overtime, highlighted by a pair of Kaitie Shipley attempts that aided in applying pressure to the Colonels throughout the first extra session. The 5-foot-5 sophomore had each of her two tries hang just wide as the match remained scoreless.
Shipley would add a shot on-goal in the second overtime and would end up with a tie for the match-lead with four shots, while Shartouny and Tarraga Manzanal paced the TTU side with two shots on-goal each. Jordan Foster led the Colonels with four shots, three of which were on-goal.
Freshman Kendall Powell almost played the role of hero in the second overtime, first drilling one off the post a mere 33 seconds into the period, before following it up with a blast up top that Hall just nicked away in the 102nd minute.
The Colonels would end up collecting a corner in the 108th minute, courtesy of an Allison Werner shot that was blocked over the end line, leading to the Kemper game-winner.
Kari Naerdemann, the first player in conference history to win three OVC Defensive Player of the Year awards, made five saves in the match. The Herne, Germany native wrapped up her junior campaign tied for the Tech all-time career record with 28 wins, as well tied for the conference's career record with 28 shutouts. Naerdemann also set an OVC single-season mark with a .890 save percentage.
Anna Hall secured six halts en route to her seventh shutout of the season.
Tech ties a ribbon on its 2017 campaign with a program-record for fewest losses in a season with only five defeats all year. TTU's eight goals allowed, only five of which came in regulation, surpass last year's school-record of 13. The Golden Eagles' stretch of five-straight shutouts to end the regular season is also a program record for consecutive clean sheets, while the club's 0.45 goals against average is the best mark in school history.
Owens ends her TTU career third on the all-time list with 17 assists throughout her Tech tenure. Mary Francis Hoots played in 3,574 of a possible 3,597 minutes the last two years, while Laruen Brewer did not leave the pitch at any point in the last two seasons, tallying all 3,597 minutes between the lines. The Crestwood, Ky. native ends her career third on the all-time list with 6,346 minutes.
Photo by Dave Winder, Murray State Sports Information