For the first time since 2000, the Golden Eagles made it to the conference finals before falling 4-0 to Murray State in the championship game. On top of Tech’s successful weekend, five players from Tech were recognized at the Ohio Valley Conference banquet last Thursday.
The tournament kicked off last Thursday at Morehead State against fifth-seeded Eastern Illinois. In the regular season, Tech played EIU to a 2-2 tie, but this time in what Tech considers to be a “lucky” game, the fourth-ranked Golden Eagles took the 3-2 victory over EIU.
Junior forward and center midfielder Jen Hoffman, who was named Offensive Player of the Year and awarded First-Team and All-Tournament Team honors, picked up a hat trick, scoring all three goals for Tech after being down 2-0.
“They weren’t pretty goals,” Hoffman said, “but it worked.”
The first goal Hoffman intended to kick the ball up as a serve for someone else, but “it just went in,” she said.
That was all Tech needed to gain the momentum necessary to take the game.
“After the first goal, the tempo and pace of the game picked up,” according to Hoffman. “People came off the bench and helped lift the team.”
The next goal Hoffman floated up from 20 yards out to tie the game at 2-2. But it wasn’t until her third tally, a lob into the goal in the second overtime that fired up fans and players as Tech advanced to the semi-finals.
After a tough fight to the end in Tech’s first game, the semi-final game was played the next day against Morehead State, the top-ranked team, who had a bye in the first round.
After a scoreless first half, freshman forward and All-Newcomer Team selection Andrea Meloff scored the first goal for Tech in the second half.
With less than ten minutes left in the half, Morehead scored, taking the game into overtime, where the score held through one extra period.
In the second extra session, freshman forward Kris Cambron put away the Eagles by scoring with 1:21 left on the clock.
“I was already mentally preparing in my head where I was going to kick my penalty kick,” junior center mid Brooke Mayo said.
After two back-to-back games, both going into double overtime, Tech went into the finals match against Murray State on Sunday, the first chance at a conference final for Tech in nine years.
Tech fell 4-0 to Murray in what seemed to be “a combination of a bunch of things,” Hoffman said.
“We’ve always had a problem playing Murray,” according to Mayo, “this game, we didn’t play well and Murray played really well.”
However, one game did not reflect the success Tech had in the conference tournament and in their season.
Mayo said she “knows [they] got this far because [they] all trusted each other and worked hard together.”
Mayo and Hoffman agreed that everyone stepped up in the conference tournament.
“In the whole tournament, the whole team stepped up, we didn’t just have one hero,” Mayo said.
Although the girls are sad to see senior Brittany Rogers leave, who, according to Mayo, “helped them out a lot in the past four years,” it is good news that they will only be losing one player for next year.
“Now that we have a taste for the finals and know how to get there, we want to prepare for next year.” Mayo said. “Our goal is to host the conference tournament and win the conference championship.
Cambron earned Co-Freshman of the Year, OVC First-Team, All-Tournament Team, and All-Newcomer Team awards for her performance during the year.
Other winners of OVC awards were juniors Taren Brown, who earned Second- Team, and Michelle Decker, who made the All Tournament Team.