By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Ohio Valley Conference play has arrived for the Tennessee Tech soccer team, as the Golden Eagles open up their eight-match league slate with a home clash against the defending OVC Tournament champion SIUE Sunday afternoon in Cookeville. First kick at Tech Soccer Field is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.
A look at Tennessee Tech
After the club was forced to cancel three straight affairs due to COVID-19 protocols, the Golden Eagles (1-3-1) made their return to the pitch Friday night at ETSU. Tech's battle with the Bucs ended in a scoreless draw for TTU's first tie of the year in what was the squad's first match in 19 days after the purple and gold were last spotted on Aug. 29 in an overtime setback to Chattanooga.
Tech's scoreless knot with ETSU saw Isabelle Austin collect her second shutout of the season and eighth clean sheet of her career. The reigning OVC Goalkeeper of the Year made three stops, all occurring from the 89th minute on. Selma Askildsen, Sarah Block, Emily Carlevato, Macy Carter, Yao Giada Zhou and Meredith Nye joined Austin as the seven Golden Eagles to play in all 110 minutes.
Chloe Smith appeared in 103 minutes and posted five shots, including four on-goal, the most by any Golden Eagle in a match this year.
Giada Zhou is responsible for Tech's lone goal this season thanks to a 19th-minute free kick in a 1-0 nod over Liberty on Aug. 22. The 5-foot-3 freshman out of San Michele al Tagliamento, Italy leads the Golden Eagles with eight shots, while Smith is the Tech leader with six shots on-goal.
A look at SIUE
The defending OVC Tournament champion Cougars (3-4-0) kick off their conference campaign after concluding the non-conference slate with a 3-0 loss at the University of Texas on Sunday. SIUE's slide to the Longhorns came on the heels of back-to-back victories thanks to a 5-0 nod over SIU Carbondale on Sept. 9 and a 2-0 win at Evansville on Sept. 12.
Lily Schnieders and MacKenzie Litzsinger sit atop the Cougar leaderboard with three goals apiece, while Schniders' team-leading two assists gives her the squad edge with eight points. Maria Haro has two goals this fall, while Sidney Christopher helps round out the SIUE attack with one score this season.
Jensen Schoch has seen the most time in goal with six matches in between the pipes and has yielded four scores to go along with seven saves for a .636 save percentage. Bella Henderson has allowed two goals and collected 12 stops in four matches for a team-leading .857 save percentage.
The Cougars are coming off a 6-2-2 regular season in the spring that netted them with a second-place finish in the league standings. SIUE rattled off wins over UT Martin and SEMO en route to the program's third-ever OVC Tournament title, before falling 3-1 to Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Inside the series
Sundays' get-together with mark the 12th meeting in the all-time series. The Golden Eagles hold a narrow 5-4-2 advantage in the set, but were upended 1-0 in last spring's meeting on Mar. 30 in Cookeville. MacKenzie Litzsinger scored in the 59th minute for the match's lone goal, with Lily Schnieders earning an assist on the play. Isabelle Austin tallied six saves in the narrow defeat.
Photo by Jim Dillon