By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Resiliency was the name of the game for the Tennessee Tech soccer team in its Friday night battle with Troy. Despite allowing the equalizer with just 19 seconds left in regulation, the Golden Eagles responded in a big way courtesy of a Kendall Powell goal just over three minutes into overtime that led Tech to a 2-1 victory in the second-to-last non-conference match of the season.
After what appeared to be a stalled TTU attack, Troy goalkeeper Miranda Schoening was attempting to connect with Trojan defender Kate Eubanks, but in her haste, the ball ended up right to a streaking Powell who never gave up on the play. With Schoening out of place and the net wide open, Powell easily poured one into the back of the net to give the Golden Eagles (4-3-0) the thrilling extra-session win.
Powell's game-winning goal is the Cookeville native's third this season and seventh of her career to already tie current volunteer assistant coach Abi Gearing (2013-16) for the second most game-winning goals by a Golden Eagle. TTU Hall of Famer Jill Burns is tops on the all-time list with 10 during her Tech tenure.
Powell's heroics proved to be needed after Troy (1-5-1) squared the match with only 19 seconds left in regulation. A lengthy throw-in by Natalie Melillo bounced around the box before Kiersten Edlund lined up a drive past a diving Kari Naerdemann and inside the far post to send the contest into overtime.
"We thought we were going to able to close it out, but to Troy's credit they kept coming forward with some dangerous attempts and then eventually stuck one in the net in the last few seconds," Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe said, on the dramatics that took place at the end of regulation. "That can be demoralizing for a team. We talked about in those moments what do we do. We walk off the field with our heads down, but do we let it carry into overtime and play poorly, or do we just keep scrapping and find a way to respond to the situation. To our team's credit we were able to do that. We pressed them into a turnover and put it in the back of the net. I'm proud of our team's resiliency in that moment."
Marta Moreno got the Golden Eagles off on the right foot thanks to an early goal just over seven minutes into the contest. Playing in only her third match, with not even 50 minutes of collegiate soccer under her belt, the Madrid, Spain product showcased her offensive prowess yet again. After splitting through a pair of Troy defenders, Moreno put herself close to 30 yards out before electing to let loose on a booming blast the snuck below the crossbar and inside the far post to put Tech ahead 1-0.
Moreno's second career score resembled her first in purple and gold, one that saw the freshman smoke one from 30 yards out that planted just under the crossbar for the eventual game-winning goal in the second half against ETSU on Aug. 24.
"That was another great goal by Marta," Springthorpe said. "It's the second time in only three games where she's been in there and makes something happen immediately. That goal was awesome."
The Golden Eagles took 13 shots in the match, the second highest output this season and fourth time in the last five matches Tech has produced double-digit shots. Nora Vicsek recorded a match-best four, coming inches away on a pair of occasions to put the affair on ice toward the end of regulation. The Budapest, Hungary native's attempt from in close in the 81st minute slammed off the cross bar and her 88th minute one-on-one battle with Miranda Schoening just ricocheted off the fingertips of the Troy keeper.
Schoening registered two saves in nearly 29 minutes of action after taking over for the club's starter Acelya Aydogmus, who left with an injury in the 65th minute. Aydogmus made one stop in her time between the pipes.
Kari Naerdemann notched four saves for her 32nd career win, a victory that for coach Springthorpe, showcased his squad's ability to respond to adversity.
"Hopefully it's part of a character trait that we are learning how to get through some adversity and having that kind of mentality," Springthorpe said. "It was actually part of our pregame talk tonight. How do we respond to injuries, and when we have players out, we have to find a way to be able to rely on us and can't worry about the things that are out of our control. We can only control what's on the field and even when something like what happened at the end of regulation tonight happens, you need to find a way to pick yourself up. And again, credit to our team that we were able to do that. Good things happen when you don't worry and you just go after it."
Tech will tie a ribbon on its non-conference schedule Sunday evening as No. 9 University of Tennessee comes to Cookeville. The match will mark only the third time a school from the SEC has played at Tech Soccer Field for a regular season contest. First kick is slated for 6 p.m. CT.
Photo by Thomas Corhern