Peyton Powell made her first career start against Tennessee Tech March 2. NICHOLE BARNES | THE ALL STATE

After a 487-day hiatus, APSU soccer returned to the pitch on Tuesday, March 2, against the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech. The Govs fell 1-0, but showed potential in the loss.

TTU displayed a strong offensive attack early and sustained constant pressure on the Govs’ junior goalkeeper Peyton Powell.

Powell, making her first collegiate start in the net for the Govs, fended off the Golden Eagles’ early surge. She saved a kick aimed for the top left of the goal in the tenth minute, and kept TTU from capitalizing on a pair of corner kicks prior to APSU’s offense flipping the field.

In the 22nd minute, freshman Tori Case’s first career shot sailed wide left. Senior Gybson Roth fired APSU’s subsequent shot seven minutes later, but the attempt also pushed left.

Tech broke the ice in the 32nd minute from a corner kick –their fourth of the match at that point– that was headed in by TTU’s Meredith Nye. Just two minutes later, the Golden Eagles found the back of the net once more on a set-piece goal, but an offensive foul negated the score and kept it just a one possession game going into the half.

It appeared the Govs were going to put their first points on the board in the 54th minute, but Lexi Maslowski’s shot from nearly 54 feet sailed just over the crossbar. 

Eight minutes later, APSU had their first shot on the goal, but TTU’s Isabelle Austin, a member of the OVC’s Preseason Player to Watch List, made her only save of the afternoon.

“We are disappointed with the result,” said APSU head coach Naomi Kolarova. “Obviously, we feel like we deserve a win. We got scored on on a defensive set piece, which we haven’t worked on yet, and it’s something we need to get to pretty quickly. I think it is just a matter of just getting up and going for the ball and taking ownership of competing for those challenges that we need to defensively. We need to be better at that, it’s that simple because it was a little bit shaky I think, each time they had those set pieces, but outside of that I felt like we played really well.

“Overall, despite being disappointed about the result, I am pleased with how we played and the effort we played [with] and the organization we had defensively and offensively. The girls have worked hard on that stuff for obviously longer than a year and I think it showed a little bit. I thought we played good soccer.”

Kolarova’s roster features a quartet of freshmen, two of which— Tori Case and Heather Haskins—made their first collegiate start against the Golden Eagles.

“Tori and Heather were the two freshmen that started for us, both kind of defensive-minded players,” Kolarova said. “We have four freshman that are here and these two obviously have done really well for the past six to eight months in terms of practice. They have both been really reliable and consistent players, and I think that showed again today.

“Those two being consistent, reliable, mature and composed helps make a difference, because we have some older players around them that aren’t so much. Having those kids, even as freshmen, come in and make an impact is really, really important for them, as well for our team in the future. It’s exciting.”

Case played all 90 minutes of the match and recorded her sole shot while Haskins played 69 minutes from her defensive position. The coach was additionally impressed with the three-save performance from Peyton Powell. 

“I was really pleased with her game,” she said. “I intended to split the goalkeeper’s time, but [Peyton] was playing well and was playing with confidence, so that is why we left her in today.”

The Governors’ other active goalkeeper is the Mirabel, Québec native Chloé Dion, who made two appearances for APSU last season in the net.

After traveling Edwardsville, Ill. on March 5 to face the Cougars, the Governors will return to Morgan Bros. Field on Tuesday, March 9 for a 2 p.m. match against Jacksonville State.