By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With playoff positioning up for grabs, the Tennessee Tech soccer team's 2021 regular season is down to just one match, as the Golden Eagles will head to Southeast Missouri for a Sunday matinee with the Redhawks. First kick at Houck Field in Cape Girardeau, Mo. is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.
A look at Tennessee Tech
Tech (4-5-3, 3-2-2 OVC) enters the regular-season finale with an opportunity to secure a first-round bye and quarterfinal hosting rights as a top four seed in next week's OVC Tournament. Currently sitting in fourth place in the postseason field of eight, a Golden Eagle victory on Sunday would ensure TTU the No. 4 seed and immediate spot in the quarterfinals, which would be played on Oct. 31 at Tech Soccer Field.
A loss or draw does not keep the purple and gold out of the No. 4 seed, but TTU would then need help from other outcomes on Sunday to still remain in the top four and earn the first-round bye.
The Golden Eagles come into the clash in Cape Girardeau rolling thanks to a current five-match unbeaten streak, the longest since its program-best nine-match unblemished streak to conclude the 2017 regular season. A win or draw on Sunday would push Tech into a tie for the second-longest unbeaten streak in school history, matching the 2002 Golden Eagle squad who produced a 5-0-1 mark to start that year's campaign.
TTU is currently 3-0-2 over the last five affairs since the calendar flipped to the month of October.
The Golden Eagles held serve against Murray State in the club's last contest in Thursday's regular-season home finale behind a 2-2 draw. Tech entered the match with a one-point advantage over Murray for the No. 4 seed, and by virtue of the deadlock, the Golden Eagles remain ahead by one point. Thursday also represented a piece of program history for the purple and gold with the team's eighth overtime match this season, the most in a single campaign, surpassing the 2015, 2009 and 2006 TTU squads that played in seven OT affairs each.
Tech took a season-high 19 shots in the draw with Murray State, including eight on-goal for the second-most in a match this year. Chloe Smith continued a recent surge behind a goal and an assist for a three-point evening, and has now scored three goals and three assists over her last five contests. The 5-foot-8 forward out of Cincinnati, Ohio is tied for third in the OVC with 31 shots despite playing in four fewer matches than SIUE's Lily Schneiders, who has 37 total attempts, and six fewer tilts than Murray State's Rebecca Kubin, who leads the conference with 38 total tries.
After missing the previous four matches due to an injury, Meredith Nye came back in a big way with the game-tying goal in the 56th minute for her second score of the season. Nye and Bailey Taylor are squared away at second on the Golden Eagle side with two goals apiece, trailing Smith's three scores for the most on the club.
Isabelle Austin is coming off a season-best eight saves in Thursday's knot, pushing her total to 62 in 12 starts between the pipes.
A look at Southeast Missouri
SEMO (5-9-1, 2-4-1 OVC) heads into the regular-season finale in a tie with Eastern Illinois for seventh place in the OVC. Due to tiebreaking scenarios, the highest the Redhawks could finish in the league is sixth.
SEMO was on a recent run with a 2-0-1 record over the last three affairs, but stubbed its toe in the regular-season road finale behind a 3-1 loss at SIUE on Thursday. Elizabeth Rater notched her team-leading third goal of the season to deadlock the affair in the 16th minute, but the Cougars scored the tilt's last two goals with scores in the 45th and 84th minutes.
Anne-Clara Couturier joins Rater as the only Redhawks with more than one goal thanks to two scores this year.
Bailey Redden has appeared in 13 of 15 matches in between the pipes and has allowed 18 goals to go along with 62 saves for a 1.35 goals against average and a .775 save percentage.
Inside the series
Sunday will mark the 26th meeting in the all-time series. The Redhawks hold a 16-6-3 advantage in the all-time set, which includes back-to-back victories behind a 1-0 nod last spring and a 3-2 victory in the 2019 regular-season finale in Cape Girardeau. The two teams played to a scoreless knot in 2018 and Tech's last win in the set was a 1-0 nod on Oct. 14, 2016 in Cookeville.
Photo by Jim Dillon