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Tech soccer moves to 2-0 in league play behind 4-0 triumph at Southern Indiana

Tech soccer moves to 2-0 in league play behind 4-0 triumph at Southern Indiana

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – A goal in the first half and three more in the second ignited the Tennessee Tech soccer team in the club's second Ohio Valley Conference affair, as the Golden Eagles soared their way to a season-high tying four goals en route to claiming a 4-0 victory at Southern Indiana Thursday evening at Stassweg Field.

Chloe Smith unwrapped the scoring just about two thirds into the first half for her team-leading fourth goal this season. Allison Lee added on with a goal early in the second, while Emily Carlevato collected one just over midway through the period and Gabby Garcia found the back of the net late in the frame to help guide Tech to a 2-0 OVC start. The Golden Eagles (4-4-2, 2-0-0) have now captured both conference contests on the road following a 1-0 triumph at Eastern Illinois in the league opener on Sunday.

"Tonight was certainly a night where we played our most complete game of the season," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "We did a great job defensively in limiting Southern Indiana's opportunities, and then offensively we looked impressive with our ability to not only score goals, but in the way we scored them throughout the evening. I thought we matched the intensity levels that Southern Indiana brought and it was a great overall team effort. There was a lot of energy and positivity from our entire team. They were being supportive of each other and I am really happy about our group as a whole and tonight's outcome."

Offensively, Tech tied its largest goal output of the year behind 15 shots, the second-highest in a tilt this season which also included a pair of second-half drives off the post by Smith and Taylor Rhodes. The Golden Eagles notched a season-best 14 corners as well, posting six in the first half and eight more in the second.

The quartet of scores, which Tech also accomplished in a 4-1 win over Furman on Aug 25, marked the first time since 2003 in which TTU has had multiple four-goal performances in a single season. The four-goal showing in an OVC affair is also the first conference get-together with at least four Golden Eagle goals since a 6-1 triumph over Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 14, 2005.  

Tech's defense was equally impressive in limiting the Screaming Eagles (3-4-2, 0-2-0 OVC) to just four total shots, the lowest attempts against the purple and gold in a match this year. Sophomore Maggie Conrad needed just one save for her second-consecutive clean sheet, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa product's first two in her career as TTU's starting keeper.  

"Southern Indiana was a bit direct in their play, so we were ultimately able to limit their opportunities when it came to getting behind us," Springthorpe said, on his team's defensive showing. "We pressed them and played with an intensity that limited their chances on our end. We cleaned things up as an entire team and our back line really played well out there, especially against a direct, aggressive style of play."

Freshman Katie Toney played the role of catalyst early by assisting on Tech's first two goals for her first two helpers of her Tech tenure. Yao Giada Zhou collected her OVC-leading fifth assist on Carlevato's goal and Allison Lee notched her first career assist on Garcia's score that capped off the offensive onslaught.

Scoreless in the 29th minute, Toney took charge behind a maneuver on the outskirts of the box, before quickly feeding Lee on a give-and-go that saw the Powell, Tenn. native immediately glide one right back to Toney along the end line. As the defensive collapsed toward the 5-foot-5 forward, Toney managed to slide one across the front of the goal and into the waiting shoe tops of Smith, who easily took care of the rest behind a blast into a wide-open net to unwrap the scoring.

Early in the second, a surge of déjà vu struck the purple and gold, with Toney once again leading the Golden Eagles to a score. With a pair of Screaming Eagles converging on the TTU freshman on the right portion of the end line, Toney crossed a beauty of a ball in front of the net that connected with a soaring Lee to double up the Tech margin at 2-0. Lee's net-finder marked the second of her Golden Eagle career after finding the back of the net in the 4-1 win over Furman.    

A set piece led to Tech's third goal in the 71st minute, as Giada Zhou roped a free kick from nearly 30 yards outside the box, and among heavy traffic, Carlevato emerged with an open look before burying the attempt for her first goal of the season and second of her career.

Gabby Garcia put the finishing touches on Tech's robust attack with her first goal of 2022 and fifth of her career. Lee helped set up the 5-foot-3 junior with a connection that led Garcia toward the edge of the box, before the Elizabethtown, Ky. product smoked a bending, twisting drive just inside the far post.

"You talk about quality finishing and creativity all night long on the offensive side," Springthorpe noted. "There were certainly a number of awesome individual efforts to go along with just an overall strong showing from our entire team. You look at what Katie Toney was able to do in getting around the outside a few times and getting to the end line. Gabby was excellent on her goal. Emily, Chloe and Ally [Lee] all had great strikes, and of course, the ball by Giada on our third goal from that far out was awesome to see.

"Credit has to go to Southern Indiana, that first half was gritty," Springthorpe continued. "They were pressing and playing hard and made it difficult on us to get a goal in the first. I thought they brought it and then even in the second half had a ton of energy. We were able to get that goal early in the second, which seemed to change the tone of the match to a degree. Southern Indiana is a good team that I believe will do well in this conference."

Taylor Rhodes led all participants with a career-high five shots. Carlevato's two tries on-frame were the most in the match. Adriana Berruti, Morgan Beyer, Peyton Murphy and Brynn Quick each tallied a try to account for USI's four shots. Senior goalkeeper Maya Etienne surrendered three scores and picked up two saves in 75 minutes, while Zoe Lintner allowed the Garcia goal and did not make a stop in 15 minutes between the pipes.

"We have taken two of the longer trips that we will take during league play with tonight's game at Southern Indiana and Sunday's game at EIU and our team has done these two trips in short period of time," Springthorpe said. "I think that shows some resilience, and while we have definitely played well over the last two matches, there is still room for improvement in certain facets of the game. We are excited to come home Sunday for our OVC opener. We know in this conference that every game is a battle and are looking forward to getting the chance to play against a good Lindenwood team in front of our home fans for the first time during league play."

The Golden Eagles will look to remain unbeaten in OVC action, as TTU will host Lindenwood Sunday afternoon in the first-ever meeting with the Lions. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT and admission to Tech Soccer Field is free of charge.

Photo by Ray Simmons, USI Athletics

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