MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team used its second straight overtime match to lift the Skyhawks to their third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship game appearance after defeating No. 4 seed SIUE 2-1 in overtime at Skyhawk Field.
The Skyhawks (11-8-1, 8-2 OVC) used key performances from all three All-OVC first team honorees as senior Hannah Fessenden and freshman Aoife Lennon gave the host all the offense that they would need to avenge a late season defeat at the hands of the visiting Cougars just two weeks before. Lennon, Alyssa Curtis, Ellie Myrick and Abi Sanvee led the team with three shot attempts each while Lennon and Myrick each tallied two shots on goal each.
All-OVC goalkeeper Mariah Klenke tallied four saves in tonight’s match. Klenke allowed just one goal in over 94 minutes of play.
“I think the two players who came off the bench to make an impact for us were key,” said UT Martin soccer coach Phil McNamara. “We struggled a little bit a couple weeks ago, so we tried to do something different tonight and it paid off.”
“We have to be very thankful to have three consecutive OVC final opportunities,” McNamara continued. “Obviously we’ve won our first two but for this program to now be challenging in a 90-minute game on Sunday to go for five consecutive conference titles is quite outstanding. We look forward to Sunday and know that we’ll have to play better than what we did tonight to get the result.”
SIUE (13-5-3, 6-3-1 OVC) was led by midfielder Tory Pitts who tallied the Cougar’s lone goal of the match. Pitts tallied five shot attempts while Kayla Delgado tallied three attempts. Goalkeeper Jennifer Pelley tallied six saves while allowing two goals on the evening.
The Skyhawks tallied three of the game’s first four shots on the evening before the match’s first goal was scored. In the 15th minute of action, Pitts found the back of the net off a lob over the keeper’s head. Pitts 20-yard attempt came off the assist from Kourtney Price gave the Cougars the early lead. Her goal was her seventh of the season and third of the tournament.
It was a key substitution in the 20th minute which set up the equalizer for the Skyhawks. With All-Newcomer Myrick coming off the bench, McNamara quickly made the substitution for the lefty Myrick to take a corner from the right side. Myrick’s lob was perfectly placed over the box as Fessenden found Lennon’s attempt shot off the bar, rebounding the attempt for a header over the keeper to even the match. The goal was Fessenden’s first of the season and second of her career.
The Skyhawks closed out regulation by firing five consecutive attempts, but the attempts would not be enough as Pelley tallied two saves down the stretch to force the match into the overtime period.
Much like in the Skyhawks last game, they wasted little time in the overtime period, finding the perfect touch. In the 95th minute of the match, Ashlie Watson used a well-placed cross into the middle of the box to find Lennon who quickly fired the game’s golden goal into left corner. The goal was Lennon’s fourth of the year.
With the victory, the Skyhawks move into the OVC Tournament Championship match for the third consecutive year, finding a familiar tournament foe in No. 2 seed Morehead State. Sunday’s match at Skyhawk Field will serve as a rematch of the 2011 OVC Tournament Championship, a game in which the Skyhawks pulled off the spectacular 2-1 victory, clinching their first of two consecutive tournament championships and the berth into the NCAA Tournament. Action from Skyhawk Field between the Skyhawks and Eagles is slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10.