By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Another challenging weekend of non-conference competition is on the docket for the Tennessee Tech soccer team, as the Golden Eagles will hit the road to square off against a pair of undefeated clubs in Western Kentucky and Xavier.
Tech's first stop on the two-match swing will take place at Western Kentucky in a Friday afternoon affair with the Lady Toppers at 4 p.m. CT, before the purple and gold head north for a Sunday matinee at Xavier to conclude the club's voyage away from Cookeville. Sunday's match with the Musketeers is scheduled to begin at noon CT.
Sunday's match at Xavier will be broadcast live. Click here to watch.
A look at Tennessee Tech
The weekend slate, which will pit TTU against a pair of squads with a combined 7-0-0 record, continues Tech's imposing non-conference slate that has already featured matchups against two top-20 clubs and a pair of defending conference champions. The Golden Eagles (1-3-0) fell at the defending SEC champ, No. 18 Vanderbilt, in the season opener on Aug. 19 and were also tripped up by No. 17 Tennessee at home on Aug. 26.
Tech did collect a 1-0 win in its home opener vs. the defending ASUN champion, Liberty, on Aug. 22, but concluded its season-long three-match homestand with a 1-0 overtime set back against Chattanooga on Aug. 29 in a battle against the Southern Conference's reigning top defense in terms of goals allowed. Chattanooga wrapped up the spring with only six scores yielded in 11 matches, posting a 7-3-1 in the process and a program-best third-place finish in the SoCon.
Senior keeper Isabelle Austin ranks second in the OVC with 30 saves. The league's reigning Goalkeeper of the Year posted a career-high 12 stops in Tech's tangle with UT on Aug. 26.
Offensively, Yao Giada Zhou has accounted for the club's lone goal this year, an unassisted score off a free kick in the 19th minute of TTU's nod over Liberty. The returning freshman out of San Michele al Tagliamento, Italy leads the Golden Eagles with five shots.
Selma Askildsen, Sarah Block and Macy Carter make up Tech's trio of field players that have not left the pitch at any point this season, totaling 372 minutes apiece. Meredith Nye is the only other Golden Eagle field player with at least 300 minutes under her belt with 301 minutes of action.
A look at Western Kentucky
The Lady Toppers (3-0-0) will conclude a season-opening four-match homestand in Friday's tilt vs. Tech and the squad is off to the program's best start since 2009. The club is set to put its unblemished record on the line after securing wins against Austin Peay on Aug. 19, Union University on Aug. 21 and Vanderbilt on Aug. 26. Thursday's contest with Vandy saw WKU card a 3-2 overtime nod in a match that was scoreless at intermission.
Brina Micheels found the back of the net twice in the win, including a penalty-kick goal in the 94th minute that concluded the contest. The Plattsburgh, N.Y. native is tied with Katie Erwin for the most goals on the team with two, while Erwin is the squad leader with seven points behind a club-best three assists as well.
The Lady Topper goalkeeping tandem has seen Alexis Bach play in two matches with two goals allowed and five saves, while Ashley Kobylinski registered a clean sheet behind one stop in a 3-0 victory over Union on Aug. 21.
WKU is coming off an 8-2-2 overall spring record with a 4-0-2 Conference USA mark.
A look at Xavier
Before greeting the Golden Eagles, the Musketeers (4-0-0) will travel to Illinois for a Thursday night meeting with the Fighting Illini. Xavier, who is off to its best start since 1997, has carded a win on the road against Saint Louis and nods at home over Northwestern, Cincinnati and Murray State. The Musketeers have allowed only two goals in their quartet of matches.
Mathilde Rasmussen leads the team in scoring with two of the club's six goals. Chloe Netzel, Sarah Owusu, Shelby Sallee and Sonia Vargas have all split the pipes as well.
Olivia Jenkins has played each and every minute in goal for the Musketeers, yielding a pair of scores to go along with 11 stops on her 2021 fall resume.
Xavier is coming off a 3-6-0 spring with a 2-4-0 mark in Big East action. The club enjoyed a banner 2019 campaign behind a 17-4-2 overall record that included a win at Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament.
Inside the series
The Golden Eagles have never faced off against Western Kentucky or Xavier. The matches are two of three first-time opponents for Tech, with the contest against Tennessee serving as the other first-time get-together.
Photo by Jim Dillon