By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team is set to put a lid on the regular season Sunday afternoon, hosting UT Martin in the finale at Tech Soccer Field at 1 p.m. CT.
The match will serve as Senior Day as the Golden Eagles will hold a special pre-game ceremony honoring seniors Lauren Brewer, Mary Francis Hoots, Michaella Keyes, McKenzie McCloud, Alyssa Montgomery, Cassidy Ortman and Karigan Owens, as well as team manager Zoie Hensley.
Sunday's affair with the Skyhawks will be broadcast live on the Golden Eagle Sports Network via the Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network. Click here to watch.
Having already clinched at least a top-four seed and first round bye in the OVC Tournament, Tech (8-4-3, 5-1-3) is eyeing a larger prize in Sunday's match. With a win, the Golden Eagles would secure the No. 2 seed in the conference tourney and advance straight to the semifinals by virtue of clinching a double-bye. It would be only the second time in program history in which TTU has made it to the OVC Tournament semifinals in three-straight years, and first since making it in four-straight seasons from 1999-2002.
Tech enters the battle of the birds carrying a program-record eight-match unbeaten streak after back-to-back wins over Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky over the weekend. The Golden Eagles blanked both squads behind a 1-0 nod over Morehead State on Oct. 13 and a 2-0 victory against Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 15, tying a program record with four-straight shutouts. The stretch started with scoreless draws at SIUE (Oct. 6) and at EIU (Oct. 8).
TTU has not yielded a goal in a program-record 487 minutes dating back to an Austin Peay third-minute score on Oct. 1. Overall, the Golden Eagles lead the OVC with only seven goals allowed, nine shutouts and a 0.45 goals against average.
Goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann leads the conference in shutouts, goals against average and a .892 save percentage. The Herne, Germany native stands on the precipice of history, as Naerdemann sits just one win back of the all-time career Golden Eagle record and only one shutout behind the OVC's career mark of 28.
Offensively, Tech is coming off its third two-goal effort of the season in Sunday's win over Eastern Kentucky, thanks in large part to the play of senior Karigan Owens. With a goal and an assist, both coming off corners, Owens registered her fifth match of at least three points in her TTU tenure. The assist also put the 5-foot-9 senior in sole possession of third place on the all-time career list, surpassing TTU Hall of Famer Jill Burns with her 17th career assist.
Freshman Kendall Powell, who scored the game-winner in the 84th minute of Tech's 1-0 win over Morehead State on Oct. 13, leads the Golden Eagles with three goals and 8 points.
UT Martin comes to Cookeville on a bit of a heater, with a 2-0-1 mark in the last three matches. The Skyhakws (6-9-3, 4-4-1) have clinched a spot in the OVC Tournament with their recent hot streak, scoring a combined seven goals in the last three tilts.
Junior Danae Kaldaridou is tied for fourth in the OVC with seven goals and is sitting in fourth in the conference with 18 points. Fellow junior Katelyn Colvin leads the league, and is eighth in the nation, with eight assists.
Freshman Erica Myers has played in all but one match in between the pipes for UTM and is second in the OVC with 79 saves.
The Skyhawks lead the all-time series, 11-9-1. The Golden Eagles won the last matchup between the two schools thanks to a 2-1 win in Martin that saw a Michaella Keyes goal in the first half, and a Nora Vicsek game-winning score in the 81st minute.
Admission to all Tech home regular season matches is free of charge.
Photo by Tony Marable