Soccer improves to 3-0 in OVC after winning conference home opener

Taylor Blazei races an Eastern kentucky player for possession of the ball during a rain-soaked game at Tech Soccer Field Oct. 2.

The Tennessee Tech soccer team is 3-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play following its win against the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels Oct. 2. The game was the first home conference game of the season for the team. The Golden Eagles have won the first three games in conference play and have compiled a 5-4-3 overall record after going 2-15-2 last season with no wins in the OVC.

Defense has been a large part of Tech’s success so far this season. The Golden Eagles have had four shutout wins this season, including the 3-0 win Friday night. The play of goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann has been part of the reason for the team’s improved defense.

“She has been solid,” said head coach Steven Springthorpe about Naerdemann. “We have relied on her; even today (against EKU), she has made a couple of really good saves for us in some key moments. She understands the game. She knows the gamesmanship of how to play.”

Junior Abi Gearing began the scoring for Tech against the Colonels with a successful penalty kick in the 27th minute. Later in the half, Tech struck again, this time with Karigan Owens who scored a goal in the 39th minute.

The Golden Eagles were efficient in the first half, earning two goals on seven shots. The Colonels also had seven shots during the first half, but the Tech defense was able to protect its goal.

The second half was quiet until the 55th minute. Tech’s Cassidy Ortman was able to give the Golden Eagles a 3-0 after scoring off an assist from Gearing. Ortman’s goal marked the second straight game in which the sophomore has scored.

Ortman’s goal was the last goal of the game. Eastern Kentucky, despite having more Shots than Tech in the 22-15 game, never found the back of the net.

The Golden Eagles were able to win convincingly despite the less than ideal conditions during the game.

“You got to go about it with a positive attitude,” said Ortman about playing in the rainy and cold conditions. “If you come out negative, then you’re going to play negative.”

“You have to just accept the fact that it is a muddy field and have fun with it, like slide when you want to slide,” said Ortman.

Springthorpe was impressed with the team's performance in the conditions and their start to the OVC schedule.

“It is fantastic; I am happy and excited for our team,” said Springthorpe. “To start the conference with three wins, it is a good day. I am pleased with how we played in tough conditions on a tough field with the weather, the wind, and the rain the last few days. It is a quality win.”

The Golden Eagles will be searching for more quality wins when they travel to conference foes Eastern Illinois Oct. 9 and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Oct.11.