By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Originally scheduled for a Sunday 6 p.m. get-together with Belmont, the Tennessee Tech soccer team's home match with the Bruins has been pushed up to 1:30 p.m. CT due to impending inclement weather later in the evening.
A look at Tennessee Tech
The Golden Eagles (1-5-1, 0-2-0 OVC) host the Bruins on the heels of back-to-back narrow defeats to unwrap OVC play. The purple and gold opened the conference campaign with a 4-3, overtime setback at home to SIUE on Sept. 26, before falling 1-0 at Morehead State in the club's first away OVC match on Thursday.
Tech's loss at Morehead saw the Eagles score late in regulation, using a Kate Larbes goal in the 81st minute to collect the tight triumph. TTU managed eight shots in defeat, led by a pair of attempts by Yao Giada Zhou and Chloe Smith. Giada Zhou put together the only Golden Eagle shot on-goal with a try in the 60th minute.
TTU's overtime loss against SIUE featured a season-high three goals with scores from Meredith Nye and Bailey Taylor, as well as a Cougar own goal early in the second half in what was the highest-scoring match Tech has been a part of in over two calendar years.
Giada Zhou joins Nye and Taylor as the three Golden Eagles who have split the pipes this year, with the San Michele al Tagliamento, Italy native producing her net-finder in Tech's 1-0 nod over Liberty in the home opener on Aug. 22.
Defensively, TTU has allowed one goal or less in five-of-seven matches this season. Senior Isabelle Austin has spent each and every minute between the pipes this year and possesses a 1.76 goals against average and a .768 save percentage behind 43 stops this year.
A look at Belmont
The Bruins (5-4-1, 2-0-0 OVC) come to Cookeville fresh off tying a ribbon on a September that saw the club post a 4-1-1 record during the month with the only loss coming to an 8-1 Western Kentucky squad. The Bruins kicked off OVC play with back-to-back clean sheet victories thanks to a 1-0 double overtime nod at SEMO on Sept. 26 and a 2-0 triumph over Austin Peay in Thursday's conference home opener.
Thursday's victory over the Govs featured a pair of second-half scores courtesy of Natalie Haverland in the 66th minute and Mai Thy Nguyen in the 77th minute. In Sunday's double OT victory at SEMO, Maci Pekmezian concluded the contest with a winner in the 103rd minute. The 5-foot-5 sophomore is tied with Loren House for the most goals on the team with two apiece.
Sarah Doyle spent a majority of time in goal early on in the season for Belmont, allowing 10 goals in six matches to go along with 32 saves for a 1.75 goals against average and a .762 save percentage. Andrea Leitner has started four matches, including the last two during OVC play and collected back-to-back shutouts with a combined nine stops in the two victories.
Belmont wrapped up the spring at 5-4-1 for a fifth-place finish in the league. The 2019 Bruins became the lowest seed to ever win the OVC Tournament behind a No. 6 seeding in the field of eight.
Inside the series
Sunday will mark the 23rd battle in the all-time series. The Bruins hold an 11-9-2 edge over the Golden Eagles, which includes back-to-back victories after Tech had taken the previous five matchups. Belmont won 1-0 in the last get-together on Mar. 16, 2021 in Cookeville. Haley Poynter provided the tilt's lone goal with a score in the 11th minute.
Photo by Jim Dillon