By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The top-seeded Tennessee Tech soccer team fell just short in the club's bid at a second-ever OVC Tournament title, as the Golden Eagles were downed 1-0 by No. 2 SIUE in Sunday's championship clash in Cookeville. In front of a record-setting crowd of 1,045 at Tech Soccer Field, the Cougars scored early in the second stanza to ultimately lead the program to its third-consecutive OVC Tournament crown and conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The loss snapped Tech's school-tying record nine-match unbeaten streak, a feat the 2017 Golden Eagles accomplished as well.
After a scoreless first period that saw TTU (8-5-5) outshoot the Cougars 6-4, SIUE found a way to break the nil-nil deadlock less than 10 minutes into the second. Following a Golden Eagle foul slightly outside the box, Taylor Dolt lined up a free kick that connected with Sidney Christopher, who slipped one into the bottom right corner of the net in the 55th minute.
The go-ahead score was one of only three shots on-goal in the match for the Cougars (8-5-4), who will head into the NCAA Tournament on a five-match unbeaten streak after falling 2-0 to Tech on Oct. 6 in Cookeville.
Trailing 1-0, TTU attempted three shots the rest of the way behind a Bailey Taylor shot in the 71st minute, a Chloe Smith try in the 74th minute and a Taylor shot on-frame in the 87th minute that was stopped by Taylor Spiller. The SIUE keeper collected three saves in the clean sheet, while Maggie Conrad picked up a pair of halts during her day between the pipes.
Smith led the match with four total shots, while Taylor and Yao Giada Zhou each generated two attempts. Christopher, Kaitlyn Nichols and Lily Schnieders each took two tries as well. Overall, SIUE outshot the purple and gold 11-10.
Smith, Taylor and Macy Carter all secured spots on the OVC All-Tournament team.
The Golden Eagles put together a 2022 campaign that featured the program's second-ever OVC regular-season championship and first since 1998. TTU rattled off the OVC's first undefeated conference campaign since UT Martin in 2018 and played in the club's first OVC Tournament championship match since 2009.
Photo by Jim Dillon