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Tech to host Liberty in Sunday’s 2021 home opener

Tech to host Liberty in Sunday’s 2021 home opener

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The 2021 home opener is now front and center for the Tennessee Tech soccer team, as the Golden Eagles are set to play their first of eight regular-season matches in Cookeville with a Sunday afternoon affair against Liberty. First kick from Tech Soccer Field is slated for 1 p.m. CT.

Admission is free of charge. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Click here to watch. Live stats are also available. Click here to view.

A look at Tennessee Tech

Tech's tangle with Liberty marks the first of a season-long, three-match homestand. The Golden Eagles (0-1-0) will host Tennessee on Aug. 26 and will welcome Chattanooga to town on Aug. 29.

TTU (0-1-0) unwrapped its 2021 campaign with a hard-fought battle at No. 18 Vanderbilt Thursday night, narrowly falling to the defending SEC Tournament champs, 1-0, in overtime. The Commodores found the back of the net in the 97th minute to conclude the contest in the first of two matchups against the vaunted Southeastern Conference for the purple and gold this season.

Tech's stingy defense blanked Vandy through regulation, thanks in large part to the stellar play of senior keeper Isabelle Austin, who collected nine saves throughout the tilt's fist 90 minutes. The defending OVC Goalkeeper of the Year set the conference's single-season save percentage record last spring with a .891 mark and finished tied for the league-lead with 57 stops.

Austin was one of three Golden Eagles to take home postseason hardware during the conference-only spring campaign, with freshmen Selma Askildsen and Meredith Nye securing spots on the All-OVC second team and All-OVC Newcomer squads as well.

Tech concluded the spring with a 4-5-1 record, but managed to lead the OVC in virtually every major defensive category including goals allowed with seven scores surrendered in 10 matches. The Golden Eagles were chosen to finish in a tie for fifth in the conference's predicted order of finish.

A look at Liberty

Similar to Tech, the Flames opened the 2021 campaign with a "Power 5" conference matchup as well, falling 3-0 at Virginia Tech Thursday night. Trailing 1-0 at intermission, Liberty yielded scores in the 50th and 61st minutes to make the club's bid at a comeback rather steep.

Kasey Jamieson paced the Flames with two of the squad's seven total shots. The returning ASUN All-Conference honoree from last season led Liberty with seven goals and 15 points. Meredith King, the reigning ASUN Freshman of the Year, and McKinley Burkett finished second on the team with two goals apiece.

Senior goalkeeper Randi Palacios picked up five stops and allowed three goals in her Liberty debut Thursday evening. The UConn transfer is coming off a banner spring campaign with the Huskies that saw her secure the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year award after surrendering only seven goals in 12 matches, posting 38 saves and tallying a .844 save percentage in the process.

The Flames are coming off their first-ever ASUN Tournament championship last spring, behind wins over North Alabama, Lipscomb, North Florida and Kennesaw State to claim the crown. Liberty registered a 7-6-5 overall record and a 2-3-3 conference mark to finish fourth in the ASUN's North Division.

The Flames were picked to finish fourth in the ASUN Preseason Coaches Poll.

Inside the series

Liberty captured the only meeting in the all-time set with a 1-0 win in an NCAA Tournament play-in match on Nov. 3, 2000.

Photo by Thomas Corhern

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