By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Play on the pitch has officially arrived for the Tennessee Tech soccer team, as the Golden Eagles will unwrap the 2022 regular season with a Thursday evening showdown at home against IUPUI. Kickoff in Cookeville is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.
Admission to Tech Soccer Field is free of charge. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Click here to watch. Live stats will also be available.
A look at Tennessee Tech
The Golden Eagles march into the 2022 campaign after an even 1-1 exhibition slate that saw the purple and gold claim a 2-1 win at North Alabama on Aug. 7 and a 2-1 home loss to ETSU on Aug. 14. Tech was recently selected to finish in third place in the OVC's preseason poll, chosen behind SIUE (No. 1) and UT Martin (No. 2).
The Golden Eagles enter the fall on the heels of a strong 2021 season that featured an appearance in the OVC Tournament semifinals for the fourth time in the last seven years. TTU secured a pair of tourney triumphs thanks to wins over Eastern Illinois and Murray State to mark just the third time in program history that the Golden Eagles picked up two postseason victories in a single season. The back-to-back playoff nods capped off an unblemished month of October that saw Tech rattle off an eight-match unbeaten streak, the second-longest in program history. The Golden Eagles went 5-0-3 during their late-season surge.
From an individual perspective, Chloe Smith helps headline TTU's returning talent after the Cincinnati, Ohio product reserved a spot on the All-OVC first team following a banner 2021 season in which Smith finished sixth in the OVC with 12 points, tied for seventh in the conference with four goals and tied for sixth in the league with four assists. The senior forward finished third in the OVC with 40 total shots and led the league with 2.86 attempts per tilt.
Smith sits atop a Tech list of three Golden Eagles that return to the pitch this season armed with postseason hardware from a year ago. Selma Askildsen and Meredith Nye are coming off their second-consecutive All-OVC second-team selections after the duo put together stellar sophomore seasons in 2021.
Askildsen did not leave the field at any point during the year, serving as a key component of a Golden Eagle defense that finished second in the OVC in goals allowed with 20 and second in the conference in goals against average with a 1.15 mark. Nye wrapped up her sophomore campaign second on the club with three goals, including a dramatic game-winning strike in the 89th minute of Tech's 2-1 victory over Murray State in the OVC Tournament quarterfinals.
A look at IUPUI
The Jaguars head to Cookeville with just one exhibition affair in their back pocket, a 2-1 loss at another OVC opponent, Eastern Illinois, on Sunday. IUPUI rounded out the 2021 season with a 4-11-3 overall record and a 3-6-2 Horizon League mark. The squad did not qualify for the conference tournament after finishing in a tie for seventh in the league standings.
The Jaguars are without their leading goal scorer from a season ago, Elizabeth Bueckers, who accounted for seven of the team's 16 scores on her way to an All-Horizon League first-team selection. Maya Lacognato, a former Horizon League Freshman of the Year, enters her senior campaign as the club's leading returning goal scorer with three net-finders to go along with a team-leading three assists in 2021.
Inside the series
Thursday night will mark just the second-ever meeting in the all-time series. The Golden Eagles bested the Jaguars 5-0 in Indianapolis in 2002.
Photo by Jim Dillon