September 9, 2016

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Chattanooga, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team defeated Chattanooga 3-2 in dramatic fashion Friday night in the Skyhawks’ first road win of the season.

Coming into this contest, the two in state rivals had met eight previous times on the pitch with the Mocs holding the all-time series lead with a record of 5-2-1.

In the first meeting since 2006 between the two squads, the Skyhawks (2-4) dominated the play in the first half. It did not take long for their hard work to pay off, as in the third minute sophomore Maggie Burkett was able to find a streaking Saphyra-Coombs James on the left side. The senior from Brampton, Ontario finished the play by placing a strike into the lower right corner of the net to put the Skyhawks up 1-0. The goal was Coombs-James third on the year, and the 25th of her UT Martin career.

The Skyhawks maintained their aggressive play and were able to earn a free kick from 25 yards out in the 18th minute. UT Martin continued their success on set pieces in 2016 as sophomore Amy McGivern played a beautiful ball into the right side of the net to put the Skyhawks ahead 2-0. The goal was Mcgivern’s first of the year.

Head coach Phil McNamara stated that the first half was one of the squad’s best so far this season.

“I am absolutely delighted with the potential we showed in the first half,” McNamara said. “I thought our passing and movement were fantastic and it was extremely encouraging to see moving forward into the rest of the season.”

UT Martin took their lead to the half and were hoping to build on the momentum. However, Chattanooga (1-4-1) responded early coming out of the break with a sense of urgency. The Mocs were able to set the pace and get the ball deep in the Skyhawk end, putting pressure on the UT Martin defenders. Chattanooga cut into the Skyhawk lead with their first goal of the contest in the 54th minute on a rebound from a diving save by sophomore Maya Jamison.

After some back and forth action, the Mocs earned a free kick in the 80th minute just outside the UT Martin box. A strike from a Chattanooga midfielder found its way over the UT Martin wall, but the Farmington Hills, Mich. native made one of her best saves of the year deflecting the ball over the crossbar and out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, just a few minutes later, the ball ended up in the back of the UT Martin net on an unlucky bounce off a defender and the score was tied 2-2.

McNamara warned the team that a 2-0 lead is one of the toughest leads to hold.

“Going in 2-0 at halftime is always a dangerous score,” McNamara said. “Credit to Chattanooga who made a much better game of it in the second half. We warned the team about the score line, and we showed our youth by not managing the game as well as we should have.”

However on this night, the young Skyhawk squad would not be denied. Just over one minute after the Mocs tied the score, UT Martin used a nice counter-attack to put pressure on the Chattanooga defense. The Skyhawks earned a corner kick and after a few deflections, sophomore Sophia Sharos headed home the game-winning goal and reclaimed the lead for UT Martin 3-2. It was Sharos’ first tally of the year and was good enough to finish off Chattanooga for good.

The well-rounded scoring was something the coaching staff was happy to see.

“I am delighted we had a goal scored from each line,” McNamara said. “With Amy scoring from the defense, Sophia scoring from the midfield, and Saphyra scoring from the forward line.”

The win pushed Jamison’s record to 2-2 in 2016, and gave the Skyhawks their first ever win at Chattanooga in program history. It was the first win for UT Martin over the Mocs since 2005.

“It was a great win for the team,” McNamara said. “We’re obviously playing short a few players, so we are looking forward to getting Kaci Mitchell and Rebecca Starnes healthy for the remainder of the season.”

The Skyhawks return home for their next match on Tuesday Sept. 13, as they host the Evansville Purple Aces at Skyhawk Field. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. 

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