October 16, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – Saphyra Coombs –James notched the 28th goal of her storied career, but the University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision to Tennessee Tech on Sunday afternoon at Skyhawk Field.

The loss marks the fifth Ohio Valley Conference game this season that UT Martin (4-12, 1-7 OVC) has lost by a single goal. Head coach Phil McNamara is pleased with the effort from his young squad despite not getting the results lately.

“I’m so disappointed for the girls,” said head coach Phil McNamara. “They are really working hard and playing a solid brand of soccer, but we are just not getting the results. We are trying to feed them confidence to give them the little extra they need to earn the results they deserve.”

The first 30 minutes of the contest was dominated by both teams looking to maintain possession while looking for openings in the opposing defenses. Neither team was able to earn any good looks, including the Skyhawks holding the Golden Eagles without a single shot during that span. A lofted goal over the head of MaKenzie Crawford in the 39th minute by Tennessee Tech’s Michaella Keyes opened the scoring and gave the Golden Eagles the 1-0 lead.

Despite the deficit, UT Martin took over the contest for the opening 10 minutes of the second half. Their hard work was paid off in the 56th minute when Coombs-James outmuscled two Tennessee Tech defenders in the box to win the ball on a cross from Katelyn Colvin. After gathering possession, the Brampton, Ontario native calmly buried her sixth of the year, as she beat Golden Eagle goalkeeper Kari Naerdemann on a low shot towards the middle of the net to tie the game 1-1.

The Skyhawks looked to build off the tying goal as they continued to pressure the Tennessee Tech defense. Maggie Burkett had two near misses including a header that narrowly missed the left post in the 65th minute. However in the 81st minute, the Golden Eagles used a counter attack to bury the game-winning goal off the foot of Nora Vicsek to give TTU the 2-1 lead. UT Martin mounted some pressure after the goal including a sliding attempt by Burkett in the final seconds, but ultimately were unable to find the equalizer. Crawford finished the match with six saves, as Shannon Grattan, Burkett and Coombs-James paced UT Martin with two shots each.

The loss leaves the young Skyhawks with just two games remaining, but playing more matches and gaining valuable experience is something that the squad needs going forward.

“It’s important for our team to continue to play and to continue to work,” McNamara said. “The girls have gained invaluable experience with everyone getting so much playing time this season. The last two games are really important on building for the future.”

The Skyhawks return to action on Thursday, Oct. 20, as UT Martin welcomes Morehead State to Skyhawk Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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