Relentless.

That's the only way to describe the style of soccer the Lady Vols (6-2-1, 1-0 SEC) employed as they swept to a tight 1-0 victory against Texas A&M (5-3-1, 0-1 SEC) in their conference opener on Friday night.

Fittingly, it is also the team's motto for this season.

"You've got to be relentless. You've got to scratch and claw and find anything to get a nick on something and knock it away," said head coach Brian Pensky after the game. "I think our commitment to that was great tonight."

The Lady Vols came out roaring to go after two poor results last weekend.

From the first minute, the team was attacking No. 20 Texas A&M with an edge that stuck out even amid the absence of important players Hannah Wilkinson, CC Cobb and Gabby Santorio. Defender Caroline Capocaccia also walked off after nine minutes to be replaced at left back by midfielder Susan Ferguson, who had not even trained in the position this season.

Senior forward Caroline Brown scored the lone goal of the game in the 32nd minute off a penalty kick, after Katie Lenz drew a foul in the box. Typically cool, Brown made the goalkeeper guess the wrong way and buried it in the far right side of the goal.

"I'm actually a pretty calm person. It doesn't really shake me too much," Brown said about the pressure of delivering when the team most needs it. "I think that's why I'm comfortable stepping up to take it. It's part of my strategy--just staying calm."

Although Tennessee were dominant in the first half, playing very aggressive possession soccer and managing to keep the ball away from the dangerous Texas A&M forwards, the situation changed as they went into the second half against the top-ranked team in the SEC.

Pensky wasn't surprised the visitors came out looking to quickly get back into the game.

"They're a punch-you-in-the-mouth kind of team. They want to come after you right away.

"We had a choice to either punch them in the mouth back or we could sit back. And we wanted to play. We wanted prove that we're a good team and prove that we can compete and battle."

That is exactly what the Lady Vols managed to do, thanks in large part to ultra-reliable goalkeeper Julie Eckel. The Junior made four key saves in the second half, tipping one shot just over the crossbar and running off her line consistently to relieve her defenders.

"We just did whatever we could do to keep it out of the goal," Eckel said, referring to the defensive effort.

Central defender Allie Sirna was impressive, acting as the spine of the defense and providing key coverage for her goalkeeper.

"Both of us have been playing together for a long time, so we're communicating the whole time," Eckel said of her partnership with Sirna. "And, I think that's the most important aspect in the back. Just talking to everyone and keeping them organized."

Pensky tossed the brunt of the blame on himself for the struggles against Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, but was proud of the effort tonight. He believes the team showed the edge needed to balance with the very technical and appealing nature of their soccer.

Now, the Lady Vols prepare for two big away games against LSU and Alabama before returning to Knoxville to welcome Ole Miss on Oct. 4.

"LSU have had some big time results this year and then we've got to turn around and travel to Alabama all day Saturday in preparation for Sunday," Pensky said.

The key, however, will be for the Lady Vols to remember the bad times to focus on securing more big results in the future.

"We can't forget about last weekend. We've got to keep that nasty taste in our mouth to continue to maintain that edge and that fight."