Tennessee soccer beats Mississippi State 3-0

Tennessee soccer stretched their unbeaten streak to five games and clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament, beating Mississippi State 3-0 on Thursday night.

KNOXVILLE,TN - OCTOBER 20, 2016 - Midfielder/Defender Rylie O'Keefe #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers and Defender Kathryn Culhane #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the match between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee soccer continued its hot streak on Thursday night with a 3-0 win against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, earning themselves a spot in the SEC tournament and moving their overall record to 10-6-1 (5-3-1 SEC).

The game was ugly in the early going for the Volunteers, as Mississippi State dominated play for the most part. Tennessee was unable to get a shot off until the 19th minute when Rylie O’Keefe hit a ball over the crossbar for a Bulldogs goal kick. The tide didn’t truly turn, however, until the Vols’ junior forward Meghan Flynn scored her first goal of the season. The goal came off of a pair of well-placed passes from midfielders Hannah Wilkinson and Anna Bialczak.

“I was thinking about my mom’s pep talk from before the game,” said Flynn about what was running through her mind as she scored her first goal of the season. “She gave me a great pep talk… It definitely builds my confidence.”

Tennessee doubled its lead just a minute before the first half ended when O’Keefe took a long shot from 40 yards out. The ball sailed over the goalkeeper’s head and bounced off of the crossbar before settling in the back of the net. The third and final goal for Tennessee came in the 52nd minute from Carlyn Baldwin after a defensive miscue from the Bulldogs. Assisting on the play were Mackenzie Gouner and Flynn.

Though they were unable to find the back of the net for the rest of the game, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Vols had several chances, including two in quick succession from freshman forward Mady Hairston. The Bulldogs showed some fight late with several chances of their own in the last few minutes of the game.

Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky was pleased with the balance in his team’s scoring.

“It’s huge,” Pensky said. “Obviously there’s a lot of focus on Hannah Wilkinson. When teams play against Tennessee, they feel like stopping Hannah Wilkinson gives them a good chance to stop the team. Thankfully we got three goals from three players and one of which was her. I think that bodes well for the team tonight and moving forward.”

The Vols will be in action again at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday when they host the South Carolina Gamecocks. The game will be available on SEC Network Plus and WatchESPN.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics