By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was a tooth-and-nail, slobber knocker to kick off the Ohio Valley Conference season for the Tennessee Tech soccer team Friday evening, as the Golden Eagles battled to a 1-1 draw against Morehead State at Tech soccer field.
"It was a good and hard-fought game and very much played like a conference game," Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "Last year there were a bunch of teams all jumbled together within a point or two of each other. I think it's going to be similar this year, where everyone is going to be about the same. When you play, it's all about finding the right opportunity to score a goal and defend well enough."
The ball traveled from one end of the field to other like an old-school game of pong, with neither side striking gold in the first 80 minutes of action. Much like the past two matches, the purple and gold let the shots fly on Friday night, accounting for 20 attempts in 110 minutes of action.
Tech would finally hit pay dirt in the 81st minute, with senior Nora Vicsek collecting her first tally of the 2019 campaign after a nifty piece of work with the ball. Gathering a long cross off the foot of fellow senior Rachel Blow, the forward made some room near the top of the penalty box and uncorked a missile that found the back of the net.
Just over five minutes later, Morehead answered. Katelynn Setters lined up for a free kick about 25 yards out from the goal following a Golden Eagle foul and let one rip while seemingly trying to put the ball into the box for a chance for one of her teammates. The ball kept traveling, however, and fell right through the outstretched gloves of Tech keeper Isabelle Austin for the tying marker.
The Golden Eagles had one more chance in regulation, with Vicsek trying a header attempt in the 88th minute, but Morehead's Grace Gaffney was there for one of her 12 saves on the night. Austin made four saves of her own while Kaitie Shipley earned a team save, stepping in front of an attempt in the second half to keep the Eagles off the board.
"Tonight, I thought we did enough to win," Springthorpe added. "Unfortunately, we gave up a late goal and at that point, we try to get into overtime and then fatigue sets in. I thought we played well. I was proud of the effort our team gave. I'm proud of the competitiveness we had about us. We now have to turn around and play an EKU team that's usually pretty good.
In overtime, Tech kept the pressure going, recording three shots in each extra period. The visiting Eagles notched just two attempts in the final 20 minutes, both in the first overtime. In total, the Golden Eagles put 13 shots on goal to Morehead's six.
"We got opportunities, and we've done that in three straight games," Springthorpe said. "We've been in that 20-plus shots range for each of these past three games, but unfortunately the ball's not falling, whether it's goalkeepers making great saves or us just missing the goal. Their goalkeeper did play well tonight; she made some big saves. We just have to keep working on it and hope that at some point, the chances we are getting will start to find the back of the net a little more."
Tech wraps up its five-game home stand, the longest in program history, with a 1:00 p.m. CT tilt Sunday afternoon. The Golden Eagles will host Eastern Kentucky at Tech Soccer Field to continue OVC play. Fans can watch the action live on ESPN+ with Dylan Vazzano on the call.
Photo by Tony Marable