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Golden Eagles stay undefeated, move into first place with 2-0 win over SIUE

Golden Eagles stay undefeated, move into first place with 2-0 win over SIUE

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – In a battle featuring two of the OVC's three unbeatens in league play, it was the Tennessee Tech soccer team that remained that way after Thursday night's stellar showing by the purple and gold. A goal in each half proved to be more than enough, as the Golden Eagles secured a 2-0 win over SIUE to take over sole possession of first place in the conference.

With Tech's win that handed the Cougars (4-5-3, 3-1-1 OVC) their first loss in league play, coupled with Morehead State, the other OVC unbeaten being idle on Thursday, the Golden Eagles (5-4-4, 3-0-2 OVC) leap frogged into first place with 11 total conference points. TTU's current unblemished run of five consecutive matches without a loss is the first time in program history in which the Golden Eagles have started OVC play with a five-match undefeated streak.

"There are just so many positives that you can take away from tonight," Tech head coach Steve Springthorpe said. "For starters, it was an unbelievable environment to be part of. Our fans were fantastic today, just so loud and vocal. Tonight, you saw two good teams battling for future seeding and potentially more, and it certainly played that way. Give credit to SIUE, they played like the champion they are and I am glad that we were able to find a way to come out on top. Tonight's win was significant for our program, and definitely to have a victory of this nature at this point of the season was important. I'm happy we took care of business at home in getting three points, especially coming off ties in the last two games. It was a great evening for our team."

Yao Giada Zhou split the pipes in the first half to break the scoreless knot, while Katie Toney did the honors in the second stanza to help double up the Golden Eagle edge. Both Tech attackers claimed their second score of 2022.

Defensively, TTU's unit and keeper Maggie Conrad pitched their fourth shutout in five OVC matches, holding the Cougars to just eight total shots, four in each half. The 5-foot-7 sophomore secured her fourth clean sheet of the season behind four saves, highlighted by two key stops in the tilt's first 20 minutes on drives by Taylor Dolt in the sixth minute and Maria Haro in the 19th minute.

"Our defense was on it today," Springthorpe claimed. "Early on it was a little scary with SIUE getting behind us a couple of times, but Maggie did a great job in making some important saves early that kept us in the game. We settled down shortly after and limited their chances, especially in the second half. I thought our team did a good job handling their directness and played the way we needed to in order to come away with the win."

Scoreless over two-thirds into the first period, Bailey Taylor, Chloe Smith and Giada Zhou got the Golden Eagle off and running with the affair's first goal. Taylor started the action with a feed to Smith, who then crossed it to Giada Zhou out in front. Cool, calm and collected, the San Michele al Tagliamento, Italy native buried the chance in the 31st minute to put the purple and gold on the board. Taylor tallied her second assist of the season, while Smith secured her fourth to run her point total to an OVC-leading 14 this year.

With Tech still leading 1-0 late into the second half, Katie Toney delivered the Golden Eagles all the insurance they needed with a 77th-minute score to pad the TTU edge. An unassisted blast by the 5-foot-5 rookie, Toney laced a drive top shelf to essentially put the match away.

"We didn't get many chances tonight, and of course SIUE didn't get many either, but ultimately it was two great, quality goals on our end," Springthorpe noted. "Giada and Chloe were big on our first goal, stringing something together on the way to a quality finish. Bailey helped start it all and I have to give her a lot of credit. She has kind of been waiting of her time, and unfortunately we had an injury tonight that forced Bailey to come in, but she performed like we needed her to and how you hope a senior would.

"Then to add one semi-late in the second half to essentially seal it for us was huge," Springthorpe continued. "I mean what can you say about Katie, what a shot that was for the freshman. Overall, from an attack perspective we did what we needed to do in finishing a couple of opportunities, but I think tonight was really about a complete team defensive effort that helped lead us to the victory."

Tech attempted seven shots in the triumph over the two-time defending OVC Tournament champions, paced by Chloe Smith's three tires. Lily Schnieders knotted the Cincinnati, Ohio product for the most attempts in the match with three bids as well. SIUE keeper Taylor Spiller made two saves in the loss.

With three matches remaining in the regular season, Tech will have somewhat of a layoff that will see the Golden Eagles not play again until Sunday, Oct. 16 when SEMO comes to town for Senior Day. Kickoff with the Redhawks from Tech Soccer Field is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.


Photo by Jim Dillon

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