By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Thursday evening in Cookeville will feature a plethora of purple, as the Tennessee Tech soccer team will welcome Furman to town for an early season get-together at Tech Soccer Field. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and admission is free of charge.
A look at Tennessee Tech
With the first week of the regular season in the books, the Golden Eagles (0-2-0) are in search of their first triumph following consecutive losses to IUPUI and Lipscomb to open the year. Tech dropped its home opener 1-0 to the Jaguars on Aug. 18, before being downed by the Bisons 4-0 on Aug. 21. TTU has yet to allow a goal in the first half, with all five scores surrendered after intermission.
Smith, who was selected as Tech's Player to Watch in the OVC, is coming off an All-OVC first-team selection in 2021 behind a sparkling campaign in which she finished sixth in the OVC with 12 points, tied for seventh in the conference with four goals and knotted for sixth in the league with four assists. The 5-foot-8 forward led the OVC with 2.86 shots per match.
Selma Askildsen and Meredith Nye joined Smith as Tech's three returners armed with postseason hardware after the two were each named to the All-OVC second team for the second-consecutive season. Askildsen has not left the pitch at any point in her two years in purple and gold, while Nye finished the fall of 2021 second on the squad with three goals.
Tech's Thursday tussle with the Paladins is the first of a two-match homestand that will see the Golden Eagles also face off with WKU in Cookeville on Sunday, Aug. 28.
A look at Furman
The Paladins (2-0-0) come to Cookeville with an unblemished 2022 resume that has seen Furman outscore its opponents 7-0 over the first two contests. The Paladins unwrapped the season with a 3-0 home nod over Presbyterian, before the squad collected a 4-0 home victory over North Greenville on Aug. 21. Thursday's tilt with TTU will mark the club's first road match of the year.
Six different Paladins have clipped the back of the net in the first two clashes, with Stella Garcia serving as the lone Furman player with two goals this season. Garcia, who also has one assist, leads the team with five points, while Hannah Farr is second on the group with four points behind one goal and a club-best two assists.
Furman was picked to finish second in the Southern Conference's Preseason Coaches Poll after the Paladins posted a 12-6-1 overall record and a 6-3 conference mark in 2021. The squad secured wins over The Citadel and Western Carolina to advance to the finals of the Southern Conference Tournament for the fourth-straight year, but fell 4-2 to top-seeded Samford in the championship match.
Nieva Gaither and Miya Poplin were selected on the Preseason All-Conference Team following a 2021 campaign that saw Gaither capture the Southern Conference Player of the Year award thanks to nine goals and six assists, while Poplin helped play a pivotal role in seven Furman clean sheets.
Inside the series
Thursday will mark only the second meeting in the all-time set. The Paladins picked up a 4-0 win in Cookeville on Sept. 3, 2006 in the only matchup in the series.
Photo by Jim Dillon