By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – On the heels of a hot OVC start that has featured a perfect 2-0 beginning for the Tennessee Tech soccer team, the Golden Eagles will look to keep the initial league surge rolling come Sunday afternoon for the club's conference home opener. Lindenwood will head to Cookeville for the third OVC affair of the season, with kickoff from Tech Soccer Field slated for 1 p.m. CT.
A look at Tennessee Tech
The Golden Eagles (4-4-2, 2-0-0 OVC) have impressed over the first two conference clashes, outscoring their opponents 5-0 on the way to consecutive road victories to unwrap their league ledger. A Taylor Rhodes goal in the 77th minute in Sunday's OVC opener at Eastern Illinois broke a scoreless tie and ultimately pushed the purple and gold to a 1-0 nod, but that was only the appetizer for Thursday's main course at Southern Indiana.
In Tech's first-ever meeting with one of the newest members of the league, the Golden Eagles carded a 4-0 road triumph, tying a season-high in goals scored after finding the back of the net four times as well in a 4-1 home win over Furman on Aug. 25. The pair of four-goal outbursts marked the first time since 2003 in which Tech has had at least two matches with four scores in a single season.
Thursday's offensive showcase at USI was also the most goals TTU has scored in an OVC match since a 6-1 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 14, 2005.
Chloe Smith, Allison Lee, Emily Carlevato and Gabby Garcia all split the pipes in the nod, with Smith securing her team-leading fourth goal of the season, while Lee picked up her second score and Carlevato and Garcia each tallied their first. Lee also earned an assist on the evening, joining Katie Toney, who collected two helpers, and Yao Giada Zhou as Golden Eagles to collect assists in the victory.
Giada Zhou's club-leading five assists are two more than any other player in the OVC. Smith's four goals tie her for second-most in the league and the Cincinnati, Ohio native's 11 points are also good enough for second in the conference.
Defensively, TTU stymied USI's attack in holding the Screaming Eagles to only four shots, the lowest attempts taken against Tech in a match this season. Over the first two conference contests, the Golden Eagles have outshot their opponents 35-16.
Sophomore goalkeeper Maggie Conrad has registered back-to-back clean sheets, the first two of her collegiate career, thanks in part to five combined stops in the pair of affairs. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa product has the fourth-most saves in the league this season behind 44 total denials.
The Golden Eagles join SIUE, the defending OVC Tournament champion and preseason No. 1, as the only two squads in the conference sitting at 2-0. Morehead State is undefeated in league play as well with a 1-0 mark after also topping Southern Indiana on Sept. 18.
A look at Lindenwood
Playing in their first year as a Division I program, the Lions come to Cookeville having split their first two OVC contests behind a 1-0 victory over Little Rock on Sept. 18 and a 2-1 loss to SIUE on Thursday. Sunday's meeting at Tech Soccer Field will mark the first conference road tilt for the Lions (4-6-1, 1-1-0 OVC) after playing the first two matches in St. Charles, Mo.
Freshman Rachel Jackson scored the game-winning goal in the club's first-ever OVC triumph against Little Rock, the 5-foot-3 rookie's club-best fourth goal of 2022 and OVC-leading third-game winning goal of the campaign. The O'Fallon, Mo. native is currently tied with Chloe Smith and UT Martin's Megan Drake for the second-most scores in the conference.
Faith Montandon was responsible for Lindenwood's lone goal in Thursday's narrow defeat to the Cougars, providing the equalizing net-finder in the 41st minute for her first score of the year. SIUE would go on to rattle off a goal early in the second half en route to the victory, with Taylor Dolt securing the winner in the 52nd minute.
Sam Blazek and Erika Anstine have shared the goalkeeping duties this season for the Lions, with Blazek holding down most of the fort thanks to 765 minutes in-net to Anstine's 225 minutes between the pipes. Blazek, who was named the OVC co-Goalkeeper of the Week on Tuesday thanks in large part to her blanking of the Trojans, has surrendered 11 goals and made 49 halts this year for a 1.29 goals against average and a .817 save percentage.
Lindenwood joins SEMO and Little Rock as the three OVC squads to have split their first two conference clashes.
Inside the series
Similar to Thursday's matchup at Southern Indiana, Sunday's battle will mark the first ever-meeting in the all-time series between Tennessee Tech and Lindenwood.
Photo by Jim Dillon