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Golden Eagles to greet Samford for non-conference finale in Cookeville

Golden Eagles to greet Samford for non-conference finale in Cookeville

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team will set its sights on the 2022 non-conference finale, as the Golden Eagles will welcome Samford to town Thursday evening for the club's last clash prior to the start of Ohio Valley Conference play. Kickoff with the Bulldogs is slated for 6 p.m. CT and 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. Click here to view.

A look at Tennessee Tech

Tech's tangle with Samford comes on the heels of a postponement in the purple and gold's last scheduled affair after weather wiped away Sunday's contest with UAB. No makeup date has been announced with the Blazers.

The Golden Eagles (2-3-2) have gone unbeaten in four of the last five tilts, with the club's only loss suffered during the stretch coming against the defending SEC champion, Tennessee. TTU topped Middle Tennessee State in its last match behind a 3-1 win in Murfreesboro that featured Tech's second-highest goal output of the season.

Chloe Smith and Yao Giada Zhou each had three-point evenings in the victory over the Blue Raiders, with each collecting a goal and an assist. Smith opened the scoring by finding the back of the net in the 19th minute for her third goal of the year, while Giada Zhou split the pipes in the 56th minute for her first goal of the campaign.

Giada Zhou's team-leading four assists is the most in the OVC, while Smith's nine points behind her trio of goals and three assists rank second in the league. Allison Lee, Meredith Nye, Bailey Taylor and Katie Toney have all tallied a goal as well this season.

Sophomore goalkeeper Maggie Conrad tied a career-high seven saves in the nod over MTSU, giving the Cedar Rapids, Iowa product 20 stops in the last three affairs. Conrad's 33 denials on the year are good enough for fourth in the conference.

TTU's matchup with Samford is the third against a Southern Conference foe this season. The Golden Eagles upended Furman 4-1 on Aug. 25 for TTU's highest scoring output of the campaign and played Chattanooga to a 1-1 draw in the Scenic City on Sept. 1.

A look at Samford

The Bulldogs, a team receiving votes for the nation's Top 25, is coming off a 1-1 deadlock against No. 14 Auburn on Sunday in the third matchup against a nationally-ranked opponent this year. Samford (3-2-3) played No. 12 Ole Miss to a scoreless knot on Aug. 28 and fell 1-0 to No. 21 West Virginia on Sept. 4 in a match that saw the Mountaineers score with only 64 seconds remaining in regulation.

Samford's defense has led the charge this season, allowing only five goals in eight contests. Morgan McAslan has been the Bulldog keeper for each and every minute of the season and ranks second in the Southern Conference in goals against average (0.67) and third in the league in save percentage (.839).

Offensively, Whitaker Buchanan and Kylie Gazza led the team in scoring with two goals apiece, while Nikki Bario possesses a club-best three assists.

Samford was picked to win the Southern Conference in the 2022 Preseason Coaches Poll after the Bulldogs posted a 16-3-3 overall record and a 9-0-0 SoCon mark. The squad went on to win the Southern Conference Tournament and then claimed a 2-0 victory at Auburn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, before being bested by St. John's in penalty kicks in the second round.

Inside the series

Thursday night's interaction will be the 12th connection in the all-time series, with Samford holding an 8-2-1 edge in the set. The two teams were scheduled to meet up in Cookeville last year, but the match was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.

Photo by Jim Dillon

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