By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team gets set for its final non-conference homestand of the season, as the Golden Eagles will greet UAB Sunday afternoon in the first of a two-leg Cookeville slate to seal the deal on non-conference action. Kickoff from Tech Soccer Field is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT and admission is free of charge.
A look at Tennessee Tech
Following an 0-2 start to their campaign, the Golden Eagles (2-3-2) have since gone unbeaten in four of the last five contests, with the club's only loss during the surge coming against the defending SEC champion, Tennessee. The defeat to the Lady Vols was part of a season-long, three-match away swing that saw Tech check each of the three columns with a 1-1 draw at Chattanooga on Sept. 1 and a 3-1 win at Middle Tennessee on Thursday as well.
TTU's triumph in Murfreesboro featured the squad's second-highest goal output of the season, trailing only a 4-1 nod over Furman on Aug. 25 for the largest offensive showcase of the year. Chloe Smith and Yao Giada Zhou each split the pipes in the victory over the Blue Raiders, with Tech's other score coming off an MTSU own goal in the 59th minute. Smith and Giada Zhou tallied an assist in the affair en route to a three-point evening, while Emily Carlevato and Taylor Rhodes each tabbed their first assists of the season.
Smith's goal pushed her to a team-leading three scores, and with her third assist in 2022, the senior forward now has a club-best nine points to tie for tops in the OVC as well. Giada Zhou's fourth assist of the year gave the San Michele al Tagliamento, Italy product a stranglehold on the conference lead in that department.
The dynamic duo joins Allison Lee, Meredith Nye, Bailey Taylor and Katie Toney as Tech's six players to find the back of the net this year. Smith is the lone Golden Eagle with more than one behind the Cincinnati, Ohio native's trio of goals.
Sophomore goalkeeper Maggie Conrad tied a career-high with seven saves in Thursday's win at MTSU. The second-year Golden Eagle ranks third in the league with 33 total stops.
TTU's tangle with UAB is the third and final regular-season meeting against a team from Conference USA. The Golden Eagles played WKU to a 1-1 deadlock in Cookeville on Aug. 28 and took down MTSU on Thursday.
A look at UAB
The Blazers (3-2-2) head to the Upper Cumberland with some momentum after a two-match stretch that saw the club play Arizona to a 2-2 draw in Tucson on Sept. 4, before securing a 1-0 victory over Samford on Thursday, a squad receiving votes in the nation's Top 25 poll. Jessica Wheeler provided the winner in the narrow nod over the Bulldogs thanks to a goal in the 17th minute, the junior midfielder's first score of the season.
Wheeler is tied for the team lead with three assists, while Stella Lawson's six scores and 12 points pace the club. Seven different Blazers have found the back of the net this season, with Lawson, Carlyn Presley and Asha Zuniga serving as the trio of UAB players with more than one goal in 2022. Presley has collected three and Zuniga has notched a pair.
Eve Beyer and Anika Toth have shared the goalkeeping duties, with Beyer securing more of the responsibilities behind 405 minutes in between the pipes to Toth's 225 minutes. Beyer has yielded four goals and picked up 17 saves for a .810 save percentage.
UAB's two losses this year have come at the hands of Memphis on Aug. 28 and at Arizona State on Sept. 1.
Inside the series
Sunday afternoon will mark just the third get-together in the all-time set. UAB has captured both previous meetings, including a 2-0 nod in Birmingham in the last battle on Sept. 8, 2017.
Photo by Jim Dillon