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. 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