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Tech soccer opens up OVC play with 1-0 nod at EIU

Tech soccer opens up OVC play with 1-0 nod at EIU

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information

CHARLESTON, Ill. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team opened its Ohio Valley Conference slate in grand fashion, as the Golden Eagles picked up a late second-half score on the way to a 1-0 victory at Eastern Illinois in the league opener Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Field.

Scoreless late into the second stanza, sophomore Taylor Rhodes tallied her first-career goal in the 77th minute to push the purple and gold to the finish line in a defensive battle with the Panthers. Freshman Dalis Hawkins helped start the go-ahead net-finder, connecting with Rhodes toward the top of the box before the Piperton, Tenn. product smoked a drive into the back of the net to propel the Golden Eagles (3-4-2, 1-0 OVC) to the 1-0 nod. Hawkins secured her first collegiate assist on the play.

"We are thrilled to start off our conference slate with a win on the road like this," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "We know that anytime you come up here its always a challenge, but our team battled for 90 minutes today and found a way to get it done when it mattered most. At the end of the day, we did what we needed to do and I'm happy that we found a way to score a goal late and secure a road win in our first OVC contest."

Defensively, the Golden Eagles registered their first shutout of the season behind four Maggie Conrad saves. Tech paced the Panthers (2-3-4, 0-1 OVC) in total shots with a 20-12 discrepancy, the most attempts in a match this season for the purple and gold.

"It's obviously important for our team to start off the conference season with a result like this," Springthorpe noted. "We had confidence coming into today and I thought it showed out there. It was a whole team effort in so many ways. The upperclassmen led the charge and our bench displayed a great amount of energy in encouraging our whole group. Honestly, that's what it takes. To come away with a road win like this in conference play showed how much of an entire team effort it was and I'm just so excited about the way we played."

Chloe Smith led all players in the match with five shots and three shots on-goal, the only Golden Eagle with more than one attempt on-frame. Jenna Little lead the EIU charge with three total tries, including one on-point. Daniela Bermeo halted eight saves in a losing effort.

"It's so important to start our conference season with a result like this," Springthorpe said. "League play is a different sort of a beast and for our group to stay disciplined and find a way to pull out a victory like this is so encouraging for a coach. A ton of credit has to go to [Associate head coach] Corey [Boyd] for how he helped get our team ready for today. He played a pivotal role in today's showing with all of the work he does during practice in helping our team get prepared for a match like this."

The Golden Eagles will stay on the road for the club's second OVC clash, as Tech will travel to Southern Indiana for a Thursday, Sept. 22 get-together for the second league affair. Kickoff from Evansville, Ind. is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT.

Photo by Jim Dillon

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