No. 20 Tennessee loses heartbreaker to Washington State

No. 20 Tennessee lost to the Washington State Cougars 2-2 (1-4, PKs) on Friday afternoon in a Round of 32 NCAA Tournament matchup at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game marks the first meeting between the two teams since a 2005 regular season matchup when Washington State defeated Tennessee 3-2 in overtime.

In last week’s NCAA Tournament first round play, Tennessee defeated Murray St. 2-0 while Washington St. upset the No. 2 seed UCF 1-0 en-route to the second round.

In the first half, both teams battled back-and-forth as they settled into the game. Tennessee had an early opportunity in the 10th minute when redshirt freshman Erin Gilroy had a shot-on-goal, but the shot was blocked by a Washington St. defender. Freshman Wrenne French’s rebound attempt was easily saved by the Cougar goalkeeper.

In the 13th minute, Washington St.’s Morgan Weaver would score near-post past the outstretched hand of goalie Shae Yanez. Weaver’s seventh goal of the season put Washington St. up 1-0.

Tennessee would tie the game 1-1 in the 20th minute when junior Danielle Marcano headed the ball in the back-of-the-net off a corner kick from redshirt sophomore Katie Cousins. Marcano wouldn’t be done scoring as she added a second goal in the 30th minute to put Tennessee up 2-1. The score remained 2-1 heading into the break.

Similar to the start of the first half, the second half opened with more back-and-forth action between the two sides. Marcano had the opportunity for a hat-trick in 62nd minute, but her shot narrowly missed wide of the goal.

The Cougars wouldn’t go away as Kelsee Crenshaw scored a goal off an impressive long range shot in the 79th minute to tie the game at 2-2.

Washington St. would have the best opportunity at a game-winning goal in the 88th minute when Weaver delivered a long-range shot-on-goal. Yanez made the crucial save to keep the score at 2-2 as the game headed into overtime.

Per NCAA Tournament rules, one “golden goal” is needed for a team to win the game. The game would end the second a goal is scored, but neither team was able to score in two ten-minute overtimes. The game would go into penalty kicks.

Prior to the penalty kicks, Tennessee made a switch in-goal putting in freshman Ashley Orkus. Tennessee would be outscored 4-1 with Washington St. goalie Ella Dederick making three crucial saves to help the Cougars win.

Washington St. will now move on to the round of 16 and will await the winner of between No. 3 Florida and South Florida. The round of 16 game is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in Gainesville.

Tennessee was without junior Khadija Shaw who suffered an apparent head injury in the game against Murray State last weekend. Shaw leads the team in goal with 14 goals on the season.

The Lady Vols will conclude an impressive 2017 season with a record of 15-4-2. The team will say goodbye to seniors Ariel Kupritz and Michele Christy leaving behind a strong, core group to build on for the 2018 season.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports

No. 20 Tennessee soccer shuts out Murray State in NCAA Tournament

No. 20 Tennessee opened the NCAA tournament with a 2-0 win over Murray State on Saturday night at Regal Soccer Stadium. It was the first meeting between the two schools since the Vols shut out the Racers 3-0 in a regular season game in 2015.

The main story line of the opening half was the apparent head or neck injury to Tennessee’s leading goal scorer Khadija “Bunny” Shaw in the third minute. Shaw was carted off, and was able to give the crowd a reassuring thumbs up as she left the field. Junior Danielle Marcano replaced Shaw to lead the Vols attack up top for the remainder of the match.

Tennessee held most of the possession in the first half but was unable to get the ball in the back of the net. The score remained scoreless heading into the break.

In the second half, Marcano scored in the 60th minute to put the Vols up 1-0. A few minutes later, redshirt sophomore Erin Gilroy scored to extend the Vols’ lead 2-0.

Following the two goals, the Racers committed five fouls and remained physical against Tennessee for the rest of the match. They were unable to get on the scoresheet though, as the score remained 2-0 until the match was over.

Before today’s game, Murray State was fresh off its championship win in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament to earn its automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

For Tennessee, junior Mackenzie Gouner made her return after suffering an injury against Vanderbilt on Oct. 19. Gouner started all 15 games on defense prior to her injury and was key to the Vols regular season success.

Tennessee will look to continue their tournament run as they face Washington State in the second round following the Cougars first-round upset of No. 2 seed Central Florida. The Vols will face Washington State on Friday at 2 p.m. ET in Gainesville, FL.

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports 

Edited by Seth Raborn

Tennessee to host Murray State in NCAA Tournament

For the first time in five years, head coach Brian Pensky and the No. 18 ranked Tennessee Volunteers soccer team are in the NCAA Tournament. The Volunteers (14-4-1) will host the Murray State Racers (15-1-2) at Regal Soccer Stadium on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.

Tennessee waltzes into its matchup with the Racers coming off a loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament last week. The Volunteers lost despite an overwhelming 21-2 shot advantage over the Commodores. A penalty kick in the 49th minute from Stephanie Amack gave Vanderbilt a 1-0 lead, and Tennessee was unable to pull off the comeback. The Vols hit the crossbar five times in the loss, and were led by forward Khadija “Bunny” Shaw who had five shots.

Despite leading Vandy in every facet of the game, Pensky and Tennessee lost its second straight trip to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. However, the Vols still received an at-large bid with their best record since 2012.

Murray State is travelling to Knoxville with a chip on its shoulder, the Racers won the OVC Championship and had four players on the 2017 All-Conference team. In their last time out, Murray State captured a 1-0 win over Eastern Kentucky to be crowned conference champions. The Racers won the match on a golden goal in the 93rd minute from forward Miyah Watford. Forward Harriet Withers sent in the game-winning cross, which was Murray State’s first goal off a corner in over 100 attempts.

The Racers made their first NCAA Tournament debut in 2009 with a 2-0 loss to Virginia Tech, and they made their first appearance under head coach Jeremy Groves in 2015. Watford was listed as the MVP of the OVC All-Tournament team with two game-winning goals for Murray State in the tournament.

Tennessee ranks No. 20 in RPI in 2017, while the Racers follow closely behind them at No. 21. Murray State and the Volunteers have met just three times ever, with 2015 being the most recent meeting. Tennessee beat the Racers 3-0 in 2015, and lead the all-time series 2-0.

The Lady Vols will be making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, and have made it past the second round just five times in school history. Tennessee has only hosted 12 NCAA Tournament games, which they have a 7-2-1 record in.

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports 

Edited by Ben McKee

Tennessee soccer loses heartbreaker to Vanderbilt in SEC quarterfinals

Tennessee soccer failed to seek revenge against Vanderbilt from their Oct. 19 matchup, as the Lady Vols fell 1-0 to the Commodores. This marks the second straight year that the Vols have failed to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals.

As the No. 5 seed, the Volunteers (13-4-1) tallied 21 total shots, but it was the Commodores (12-6-1) two shots on goal that led them to a 1-0 victory. More specifically, it was a goal on a penalty shot from Vandy’s Stephanie Amack in the 50th minute that gave the Commodores the win.

From the start of the game, Tennessee dominated on offense, including five shots for the Vols and none for Vanderbilt thought the first 20 minutes. This included a shot from star junior forward Khadija “Bunny” Shaw in the 7th minute that she nearly scored by accident. However, like many shots from Tennessee in this game, the ball found the crossbar.

The first sign of life from the Commodores came in the 40th minute when they attempted their first corner kick of the match. The header off the corner was blocked by junior Danielle Marcano, and just moments later she missed high on a shot as the two teams went into the half tied at 0-0.

The Volunteers were dominating the shot column with a convincing 10-to-one margin through 45 minutes. However, one tangle of the legs in the 50th minute would change the whole narrative of the match.

Amack of Vandy received her fourth penalty kick of the year, and put it in the back of the net to secure a 1-0 lead for the Commodores. Shaw, with seven game winning goals this season under her belt, looked for an epic response just moments later for Tennessee as she had two shots blocked by Vanderbilt goalkeeper Katelyn Fahrner. Vols freshman Erin Gilroy had her fair share of close calls as well, but she was denied by Fahrner in the box and once by crossbar in the 59th minute.

The script flipped late in the game as it became evident that the Commodores had more endurance than Tennessee. Fahrner sealed the game for Vandy with a save in the 88th minute off a free kick. The Commodores reached the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2005, and advance to play No. 8 seed Arkansas at 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Ironically, the last time these two teams met in the SEC Tournament was in 2005, when the Vols advanced to the semifinals on a penalty kick.

“We were terrific, I think we hit 4-5 posts or crossbars. It just wasn’t meant to be,” said Shaw, who tallied a team-high five shots in the loss.

“I’m so incredibly disappointed for our players…That’s soccer, it can be a cruel game,” said Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky.

The NCAA Tournament is next for the Lady Vols, who are rank No. 14 in the RPI. The NCAA Tournament selection show will take place on Monday, Nov. 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Featured image courtesy of the SEC 

Edited by Ben McKee 

No. 19 Tennessee soccer defeats Arkansas in season finale

Tennessee (14-3-1, 6-3-1 SEC) defeated Arkansas 3-2 on Thursday night at Razorback Field. The game is Tennessee’s first game against Arkansas since 2015 when the Vols won 1-0 in Fayetteville.

Arkansas (9-9-1, 4-5-1 SEC) struck first in the fourth minute when Taylor Malham scored to put the Razorbacks up 1-0. The goal came after freshman Paige Franks gave away the ball at midfield, allowing Arkansas to counter-attack and capture an early lead in the first half.

In the 32nd minute, Lady Vols junior Rylie O’Keefe would score to even the game at 1-1. O’Keefe’s fifth goal of the season came off a bad clearance in the box by an Arkansas defender. Entering the break, the score remained at 1-1.

In the second half, Arkansas would go up 2-1 in the 50th minute off a goal in which Tennessee scored on themselves. While defending an Arkansas free kick, sophomore Mary Alice Vignola would head the ball backwards into her own goal.

The Lady Vols would go on to tie the game at 2-2 in the 67th minute. Redshirt freshman Erin Gilroy sent in a long shot from the edge of the box to score her third goal of the season.

In the 81st minute, junior Bunny Shaw scored off a long throw-in from junior Danielle Marcano to put Tennessee up 3-2. Shaw’s 14th goal of the season was the eventual game-winner, as the score remained 3-2 until the conclusion of the game.

For the second game in-a-row, Tennessee was without junior Mackenzie Gouner who had started 15 games in defense before going down with an injury during the Vanderbilt game. Despite Gouner’s absence, the Tennessee defense held off numerous Arkansas attacks, as they successfully limited the goals given up to only two on the night.

The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Vols, after losing to Vanderbilt and Florida last week.

Tennessee will look to build momentum off an impressive regular season, as they head to Orange Beach, Alabama for the SEC Tournament starting on Sunday. The Vols are guaranteed a top-six seed, and will have a first-round bye to start the tournament. All games will air on the SEC Network.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports

No. 11 Tennessee upset by Vanderbilt on the road

No. 11 Tennessee (13-2-1, 5-2-1 SEC) lost to Vanderbilt 2-1 on Thursday night at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex. The game marks Tennessee’s second loss of the season, the other being an earlier defeat on the road to South Carolina. In addition, the loss snaps a four-game win streak for the Lady Vols.

In the first half, Vanderbilt (10-5-1, 4-3-1 SEC) had an early scoring opportunity in the 13th minute when Rebecca Rossett’s shot narrowly missed. Before play resumed, junior Khadija Shaw was subbed out with an apparent knee injury that occurred in the run of play prior to Rossett’s shot attempt.

The Lady Vols would give up a penalty kick in the 16th minute when junior Mackenzie Gouner brought down an attacking Vandy player in the box after losing the ball. Stephanie Amack would bury the penalty kick and put Vanderbilt up 1-0.

Tennessee’s best chances in the first half came when junior Danielle Marcano produced three shots on goal within three minutes in the latter stages of the half. Entering the break, the score remained 1-0.

In the second half, Tennessee maintained much of the possession while Vanderbilt settled in comfortably on defense. Despite several attacking opportunities for the visitors, Vanderbilt was able to take full advantage of the limited chances they had. In the 76th minute, Paula Ellis sent in a header to extend Vandy’s lead to 2-0.

In the 78th minute, junior Rylie O’Keefe scored to cut Vanderbilt’s lead to 2-1. O’Keefe’s fourth goal of the season remained Tennessee’s only goal of the night, as the game finished 2-1.

Injuries played a significant role in the loss to Vanderbilt. The Lady Vols were without their team-leading goal scorer Shaw for most of the first half. Shaw would return in the 59th minute but was unable to get on the scoresheet. In the 84th minute, Gouner was hurt while attempting a slide tackle and would miss the remainder of the game. Prior to the game, Gouner started all 15 games in defense for Tennessee.

The Lady Vols will hope to bounce back as they return to Regal Soccer Stadium on Sunday. They are set to face No. 20 Florida and will look to maintain their unbeaten streak at home. The game will air at 1 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of UT Sports