By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Chloe Smith sealed the deal on another dramatic win for the Tennessee Tech soccer team, as the Golden Eagle returning junior forward split the pipes on a penalty kick in double overtime to help guide TTU to a 1-0 nod over Eastern Illinois on Tech's annual Senior Day.
Scoreless midway through the second extra session, a deflected ball in the box banged off an EIU Panther's hand, resulting in a Golden Eagle penalty kick with a chance to wrap up the match. Cool, calm and collected, Smith rose to the occasion and buried a low liner into the bottom right corner to tie a ribbon on the dramatic affair in the 105th minute.
The victory marked the second-consecutive double-overtime triumph after coming back from a 1-0 second-half deficit to claim a win in double OT at UT Martin Thursday night. The Golden Eagles are now an even 2-2 in OVC action, sitting at 3-5-1 overall.
"I'm happy for our group in what was a great win on Senior Day," Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "We are in the middle of a tough stretch with four games in an eight-day period and we are now halfway through it. We just need to keep climbing the ladder and keep going. We started the conference season with a couple losses, so at this point it's just about putting ourselves in a position to keep moving up in the standings and make the tournament. Today at home on Senior Day, we were able to get the job done."
Smith's heroics capped off a Golden Eagle attack that peppered 18 shots, including seven on-goal. The club's 18 total tries were the most in a match this season, while the seven on-frame were the second most this year after nine on-point Thursday at Martin. Smith's five overall attempts tied a season-best and were knotted with Yao Giada Zhou for the most in the match. Giada Zhou's five tries were a career high, which included the most serious threat in regulation behind an 87th-minute blast ticketed for the upper left corner that was swatted away by a diving Faith Davies.
Davies secured six stops in a losing effort, while Isabelle Austin needed just one save, a denial in the second overtime, in nearly 105 minutes in between the pipes for her ninth career clean sheet and third of the season.
"We have been defending well the last couple of games," Springthorpe noted. "At Martin we did a good job against an attack-oriented, tough team to deal with. Then you look at today, and we knew we wouldn't see a lot of shots, but we needed to make sure that whatever we gave them was far out. And of course, we have a good goalkeeper back there in Izzie. She always does a great job and handled the one in overtime that she needed to."
EIU (3-7-2, 1-2-1 OVC) took 10 total shots. Michaela Danyo led the club with three attempts.
"Overall, I thought our team played well," Springthorpe said. "We created some chances, not a ton, but you have to give credit to EIU in that regard as well. That's a good solid team that's just well coached. They are hard to get the ball from, and while they don't necessarily create a lot of opportunities, they make it really hard on you. To get a penalty in the second overtime was great. We earned it and I'm glad we stuck it to get the win. Again, I'm happy for our team and our seniors to get a win like that on Senior Day."
TTU will hit the pitch on Tuesday, welcoming in Belmont to Tech Soccer Field in the makeup of a postponed match from Oct. 3. First kick with the Bruins is set for 6 p.m. CT.
Photo by Jim Dillon