By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A second consecutive in-state affair is on the books for the Tennessee Tech soccer team, as the Golden Eagles will close out a season-long three-match homestand with a Sunday evening meeting against Chattanooga. First kick with the Mocs is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.
A look at Tennessee Tech
TTU's early-season slate has already featured a pair of top-20 battles, matchups against two defending conference champions and a red-hot Tennessee squad that has outscored its opponents 14-0 over the first three contests. The Golden Eagles (1-2-0) are coming off a 6-0 loss to the aforementioned Vols Thursday evening in the middle tilt of Tech's three-match homestand.
The Golden Eagles began the season-long stretch in Cookeville with a 1-0 nod over the defending ASUN champ, Liberty, on Aug. 22. TTU opened the season with a 1-0 overtime defeat on Aug. 19 at No. 18 Vanderbilt, the defending SEC champion.
Tech's lone goal this year came courtesy of a Yao Giada Zhou free kick from just outside the box in the 19th minute of the Liberty affair. The game-winner was one of three shots this year for the San Michele al Tagliamento, Italy native, which is tied for tops on the squad with junior Taylor Hornback, who took two of her three attempts in the last match against UT.
Senior keeper Isabelle Austin leads the OVC with 24 saves this season after notching a career-high 12 against the Volunteers on Thursday. The Sylvania, Ohio product secured her first clean sheet of the campaign, and seventh of her career, in the 1-0 win over Liberty and began the fall with nine stops at No. 18 Vanderbilt.
Selma Askildsen, Sarah Block and Macy Carter make up Tech's trio of field players who have not left the pitch at any point of the first three matches, tallying 277 minutes of action apiece. Katelyn Farmer (221), Giada Zhou (211) and Meredith Nye (206) have also appeared in over 200 minutes in the early stages of the season.
Tech is coming off a 4-5-1 spring campaign, but led the OVC in virtually every major defensive category, including goals allowed with seven scores surrendered in 10 tilts. The Golden Eagles were chosen to finish in a tie for fifth in the conference's predicted order of finish.
A look at Chattanooga
Despite a 1-2 record to begin the year, the Mocs continue Tech's rigorous non-conference campaign after UTC posted a 7-3-1 spring record with a 6-2-1 Southern Conference mark that resulted in a third-place finish, the best ending in program history.
Defensively, the Mocs allowed only six goals in 11 matches during the spring and posted a program-record 0.55 goals against average. Chattanooga collected six shutouts, including five in league play.
This year's version of UTC began the campaign with a 1-0 victory over UAB on Aug. 19, but has since dropped back-to-back matches with a 1-0 setback against Georgia State on Aug. 22 and a 2-1 double overtime defeat at Belmont on Friday.
Samantha Shaw is responsible for both goals this year. Kendra Mueller and Maggie Shaw each have an assist, while Mackenzie Smith paces the club with four shots. Chattanooga is being outshot 36-13 over the first three matches.
Abby Saddler and Ashton Shields have split the goalkeeper duties with Saddler appearing primarily in between the pipes with over 200 minutes of action and three goals allowed to go along with 12 saves, while Shields has yet to yield a score in over 89 minutes of work and has 10 stops to her credit.
Inside the series
Sunday's contest will mark the 20th in the all-time series. Chattanooga holds a 12-6-1 advantage in the set. The lone draw occurred in the last meeting, a 1-1 deadlock in Cookeville on Sept. 20, 2015.
Photo by Christian Murphy