SKYHAWKS USE STRONG SECOND HALF TO OUST PURPLE ACES
September 13, 2016
MARTIN, Tenn. - Coming off a dramatic win last Friday night in Chattanooga, the University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team returned home to host Evansville in a non-conference match Tuesday night, in which UT Martin (3-4) came away with a 2-0 victory.
The Skyhawks welcomed the Purple Aces to Skyhawk Field as the first part of back-to-back home matches to end this year’s non-conference schedule. Both team’s started the game playing passively in hopes to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes. UT Martin opened up as the aggressor after the 10th minute and earned four corner kicks in the first half. Despite several close chances, Evansville was able to keep the Skyhawks off the board.
However it was the Purple Aces who began to press the issue late in the opening period. Sophomore goalkeeper Maya Jamison made a diving save in the 44th minute to keep Evansville (1-7-1) off the board going into the locker room, and with Evansville missing out on two golden opportunities, assistant head coach Leslie Gillies was happy the game was still tied going into the break.
“Evansville should have been up maybe one or two goals at halftime,” Gillies said. “But we held it strong, had a good talk and adjusted our midfield. They stepped up and did a lot better in the second half.”
From the opening whistle of the second half it was all Skyhawks. Constant pressure and possession led to several great opportunities for UT Martin and kept the Evansville defenders pressed back in their own end. The Skyhawks were finally able to break through in the 56th minute using a counter-attack to drive the ball down the left side of the field. Redshirt freshman Sophia Sharos was able to maintain possession through some traffic and cross the ball to the right side of the Aces net. There awaited sophomore midfielder Katelyn Colvin to slide through and beat Evansville goalkeeper Whitney Biggs in the top left corner.
The Arlington, Tenn. native notched the first goal of her Skyhawk career, and for Gillies and UT Martin it could not have come at a better time.
“She’s been working and plugging away,” Gillies said. “It was good to finally see her get her first goal tonight. Her hard running that she has put in this year paid off with that first goal.”
It did not take the Skyhawks long to keep the momentum going. In the 68th minute, UT Martin used another effective counter-attack to pressure the Evansville defense down the right side. Sophomore Danae Kaldaridou played a beautiful cross across the box, where the lone senior Saphyra Coombs-James was awaiting. Coombs-James outjumped an Aces defender to head the ball into an open left side of the net and put the Skyhawks up 2-0.
Effective defending from the UT Martin back line and a strong Jamison maintained control of the game through the final minutes and preserved the 2-0 shutout. For Jamison, it was her first clean sheet of the year and the win improved her record to 3-2.
“Maya was great tonight,” Gillies said. “I think our defense and midfield did a better job of breaking chances up and keeping players wide. It’s the first clean sheet and we will take it. Hopefully there is more to come.”
The shutout victory was the third straight for UT Martin over Evansville, and improved the Skyhawks’ record against the Aces to 3-0 all-time at Skyhawk Field. Having the home field advantage is crucial with only one remaining game before conference play begins and UT Martin is hoping to keep building on this momentum.
“It was great to win again at home,” Gillies said. “We always stress to our team we want to win at home. We’ve won three of our last four here which is great, but Memphis is going to be a tough opponent. We’ll do everything we can and battle and continue to use this as a momentum builder to get ready for league play.”
The Skyhawks return to action this Sunday, Sept. 18 at Skyhawk Field as they host the Memphis Tigers in the last non-conference match of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.