By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech soccer team continues a conference-opening road swing Thursday evening, as the Golden Eagles will travel to Southern Indiana for their second-consecutive OVC away affair to begin league play. Kickoff from Strassweg Field in Evansville, Ind. is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CT.
A look at Tennessee Tech
The Golden Eagles (3-4-2, 1-0-0 OVC) began their conference campaign with a bang after topping Eastern Illinois in dramatic fashion Sunday afternoon in Charleston. Scoreless late into the second half, sophomore Taylor Rhodes picked a prime time for her first career goal, splitting the pipes in the 77th minute to push the purple and gold to a captivating 1-0 nod. Dalis Hawkins set the Piperton, Tenn. product up on the winner with a feed toward the top of the box that ultimately let Hawkins to her first career assist in her third career start.
Rhodes went on to win the OVC Offensive Player of the Week honor Tuesday afternoon, her first career weekly accolade and Tech's first such honor this season. The 5-foot-6 forward's four shots were second-highest in the victory at EIU, trailing only Chloe Smith for the most in the contest.
Smith's three goals still lead the club, while her nine points is not only a TTU high, but also places the Cincinnati, Ohio native in a tie for second in the conference. Yao Giada Zhou still sits atop the conference with four assists and joins Rhodes, Smith, Allison Lee, Meredith Nye, Bailey Taylor and Katie Toney as Golden Eagles who have found the back of the net this season.
Defensively, Tech pitched its first shutout of the season in Sunday's blanking of the Panthers thanks in part to four Maggie Conrad saves en route to the sophomore's first career clean sheet. Conrad's 43 total stops this year are good enough for third in the OVC.
A look at Southern Indiana
Playing in their first season as a Division I program, the Screaming Eagles (3-3-2, 0-1-0) are coming off a 1-0 defeat at Morehead State Sunday afternoon in their first clash as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. USI fell victim to an early Morehead score after Collen Swift powered one home in the 12th minute of the league opener.
The Southern Indiana loss was the club's second consecutive after falling 1-0 at Purdue Fort Wayne on Sept. 11 in a match that featured a Mastodon score in the second minute for the tilt's lone goal. USI's other defeat this year came back in the season opener with a 1-0 loss at North Dakota. The club's three victories came courtesy of a 1-0 triumph at Winona State on Aug. 20, a 4-0 home victory over Rose-Hulman on Aug. 25 and a 2-0 nod at Chicago State on Sept. 9 in the start of a season-long, three-match away swing. The Screaming Eagles picked up draws at Northern Illinois on Aug. 28 and at North Alabama on Sept. 1.
Peyton Murphy heads into Thursday's battle with Tech as the OVC leader in goals with five and points with 12. The 5-foot-8 freshman is the only Screaming Eagle with more than one goal this season. Morgan Beyer, Avery Schone and Taylor Hall have all scored as well. Beyer and Jill DiTusa join Murphy atop the Southern Indiana leaderboard with two assists this season.
Maya Etienne has spent the entire year as the USI goalkeeper and has surrendered only four scores in eight matches, tallying 32 saves in the process for a .871 save percentage to rank second in the OVC in that department. The Midland, Mich. product leads the conference in goals against average thanks to a 0.50 mark.
Inside the series
Thursday's meeting will mark the first ever get-together in the all-time series. Southern Indiana joins Lindenwood, who Tech will host on Sunday, and Little Rock as the OVC's three new schools this season.
Photo by Jim Dillon