By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Another late goal lifted the Tennessee Tech soccer team into the win column, as the Golden Eagles found the back of the net in the 69th minute to secure a 2-1 nod over Belmont Tuesday night at Tech Soccer Field. Squared 1-1 late in regulation, a Chloe Smith corner connected off the lid of Emily Carlevato and into the back of the net for Carlevato's first career goal that helped propel the purple and gold to the thrilling victory.
Tech's triumph is the club's third consecutive, all by one-score margins. After handing then 3-0 UT Martin its first conference loss of the year on Oct. 7, Tuesday's TTU win also snapped Belmont's perfect 3-0 conference mark that saw the Bruins not allow a goal throughout the unblemished stretch. In fact, dating back to Sept. 16, Belmont entered the match having not surrendered a score in over 310 minutes of action before Tech (4-5-1, 3-2-0 OVC) split the pipes twice on Tuesday.
"This is great stretch we are on right now, a tough stretch with three games in six days, but to come out of it with nine points in those three is pretty amazing," Golden Eagle head coach Steve Springthorpe said, on his club's recent surge. "I think our team is playing well right now, we are playing with confidence and are just finding a way to grind through whatever we need to grind through to earn wins out there. We are excited about what happened here tonight. We beat a good Belmont team that was on a really good roll and I am happy for our group.
Carlevato's winner came shortly after the Bruins (6-5-1, 3-1-0 OVC) deadlocked the score in the 55th minute. A Belmont free kick from well outside the box drifted in front of the net and took its place among heavy traffic. A series of tries were deflected, before Rachel Vernon found a way to drive one home to knot the affair at 1-1.
Despite the setback, the Golden Eagles refused to be denied, scoring on their own set piece less than 15 minutes later.
"We were playing well for most of the match and then we gave up that tying score in the second half, which could have caused us to cave a little bit," Springthorpe noted. "But we are playing with a lot of confidence right now and have the belief that we can play well at any time. We hung in there in the second half and found a way to get a goal. I thought it showed resolve from our team and that's been something that we have shown over the last few weeks now. We have had players out and others that have had to step and we have gone through a lot this season, so maybe some of what we faced earlier on is having a positive impact right now."
Smith, who assisted on Carlevato's game-winning goal with her serve off the corner, started the scoring with a net-finder in the 24th minute. After first slamming one off the post within the tilt's first 10 minutes, the Cincinnati, Ohio product would not be denied just over midway through the opening period. An initial move past a Bruin defender along the left side of the box allowed Smith to create space, before the 5-foot-8 forward blasted one through to give Tech the 1-0 edge.
Overall, Smith's match-leading six shots were a season-best. The reigning OVC Offensive Player of the Week, who captured the honor earlier Tuesday afternoon, has 11 total attempts over the last two tilts.
"Chloe was aggressive tonight and certainly is playing with confidence right now," Springthorpe said. "I think she feels good about what she is doing and how she is playing. I'm really happy for Chloe. She was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week and then on the same day had a game like this. We had three players take home Player of the Week awards today with Selma [Askildsen] winning Defensive Player of the Week and Izzie [Austin] Goalkeeper of the Week, so going into tonight you never know how that will impact a team and the psyche of those players, but all three of them played great tonight."
Austin secured two saves en route to her third straight victory. BU's Andrea Leitner made two stops as well. Rachel Venron led Belmont with three shots, the only Bruin to take more than one attempt.
"This was a team win tonight," Springthorpe claimed. "Our bench and their energy tonight were unbelievable. Belmont always comes in loud and shows a great deal of excitement, but I thought we were able to match their energy tonight. I'm also happy for our staff and grateful for everything [associate head coach] Corey [Boyd] has done this year. We are down a coach and it's just the two of us, but has taken on a larger role and has been amazing. I'm thankful for his ability to help prepare us day in and day out. He's just ben great."
A quick turnaround will see the Golden Eagles play their fourth match in an eight-day period, as Tech will travel to Austin Peay for a Thursday night get-together with the Govs. First kick in Clarksville is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.
Photo by Jim Dillon