By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team ended its long layoff with a stout defensive effort and an offensive output that featured a season-high in shots on the way to a scoreless draw Friday night in the non-conference finale at ETSU.
Playing for the first time since Aug. 29 after the last three matches were cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols, the Golden Eagles carded their first tie of the year after limiting the Bucs (3-1-2) to just four shots on-goal over the course of 110 minutes. Despite playing for the first time in the month of September, Tech (1-3-1) managed to produce a season-high 14 shots, highlighted by a campaign-best nine on-goal, including a pair in the first overtime.
"First of all, that was just a quality game tonight that was good to be a part of," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "That's a strong team over there in ETSU, one that defends well, is a possession-oriented type of club and a group that should create problems in their conference. As far as we are concerned, I liked the way we came out tonight, especially having not played in a game in a little bit. I thought the first 30 minutes we were able to solve a lot of the problems ETSU presented us and had our fair share of opportunities, but just couldn't finish.
"Overall, I thought we handled the whole situation well of having not played in a match since the end of August," Springthorpe continued. "This week was the first time we had a cohesive group in training and a lot of them figured things out in a short period of time. I am pleased with what we did considering the long break."
Chloe Smith, who had appeared in just two matches all year prior to Friday, paced the purple and gold with five shots, four of which were on-frame. The Cincinnati, Ohio product's attempts and attempts on-point were the most by any Golden Eagle in a match this season. Yao Giada Zhou and Bailey Taylor each collected a season-high three shots and a season-best two shots on-goal. Raffaella Giuliano and Jenna Brown led the ETSU charge with two attempts each.
Isabelle Austin picked up three saves en route to her eighth career shutout and second blanking of the season, securing all three of her stops from the 89th minute on. Tech was credited with a key team save in the first overtime on a Jenna Brown drive off a Bucs' corner that caromed off a TTU defender right in front of the net before Austin dove on top of it. ETSU's Shu Ohba tallied a career-high nine halts in the scoreless knot.
The Golden Eagles came out soaring in the first half with seven of the club's 14 shots, including five on-goal. Tech held the Bucs to just one shot in the first stanza.
"I thought we were organized defensively tonight, which has been a trademark of our team," Springthorpe said. "We did a good job of dealing with their attack and were able to neutralize some of the things they tried to do. Even though we gave up shots in the second, we were comfortable with the attempts they had. It was a typical organized Tech effort. Unfortunately, from our attack we weren't able to finish, but that's also a great goalkeeper over there. She was savvy, in control and we knew we would have to do something special to get one past her."
TTU will unwrap OVC play and appear at home for the first time in the month of September, as the purple and gold welcome SIUE to town on Sunday, Sept. 26. First kick from Tech Soccer Field is slated for 1 p.m. CT and admission is free of charge.
Photo by Jim Dillon