By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team makes its return to the pitch Friday evening, as the Golden Eagles travel to East Tennessee State for the club's first match in 19 days after the cancellation of the last three contests due to COVID-19 protocols. First kick in Johnson City is slated for 6 p.m. CT.
A look at Tennessee Tech
Friday night's affair will serve as Tech's first match in the month of September after the Golden Eagles (1-3-0) were forced to cancel their clashes at Western Kentucky on Sept. 3, at Xavier on Sept. 5 and vs. Samford on Sept. 9 due to COVID-19 protocols. Tech was last spotted on the pitch on Aug. 29 when the purple and gold fell 1-0 in overtime at home to Chattanooga.
Not only will the battle with the Bucs end TTU's long layoff, but Friday's match is also the last non-conference affair for the Golden Eagles. Tech's next eight matches are all Ohio Valley Conference contests.
TTU's lone win of the 2021 campaign came over the defending ASUN champion, Liberty, behind a 1-0 nod on Aug. 22 in the home opener. Yao Giada Zhou provided the game-winner in the narrow victory thanks to a 19th minute score on a free kick from just outside the box. The San Michele al Tagliamento, Italy native leads the Golden Eagles with five shots this year and is tied with Chloe Smith for the team lead with two shots on-goal.
Tech's other two clashes this season were both against nationally-ranked SEC opponents. The Golden Eagles fell 1-0 in overtime at No. 18 Vanderbilt in the season opener on Aug. 19 and dropped a 6-0 decision to No. 17 Tennessee on Aug. 26.
A look at ETSU
Like the Golden Eagles, Friday night's match will also serve as the non-conference finale for the Bucs, who get set to embark on a nine-match Southern Conference slate the following weekend. ETSU (3-1-1) began the year with back-to-back 1-0 nods over Presbyterian and UNC Asheville, before the club was tripped up 1-0 at Radford for its only loss of the season. The Bucs then concluded a four-match road swing with a 2-1 win at Middle Tennessee on Sept. 10 and a 1-1 draw at Lipscomb on Sept. 12.
Kyra Ranvek is responsible for two of the team's five goals, with Katie Phillips, Sydney Somogyi and Raffaella Giuliano rounding out the ETSU attack with one goal apiece. Nele Bauer is the squad leader with 10 shots, while Phillips paces the Bucs with eight shots on-goal.
Shu Ohba has spent the entire season in between the pipes for ETSU. The freshman out of Fujisawa, Japan has allowed three goals to go along with 18 stops for a .857 save percentage.
Inside the series
Friday's meeting will mark the 18th in the all-time set. The Golden Eagles hold a narrow edge behind a 7-6-4 advantage. Tech took the last battle with a 2-1 win on Aug. 24, 2018 in Cookeville that saw the Golden Eagles rally for two second-half goals after trailing 1-0 at intermission.
Photo by Jim Dillon