When Tennessee Lady Vols soccer coach Angie Kelly set up a September home matchup against her alma mater, North Carolina, she knew exactly what she was getting her team into.
Kelly's Lady Vols took to the field against top-ranked and undefeated UNC Wednesday night and came away on the losing end of a 5-2 decision at the Tennessee Soccer Complex.
The crowd of 3,000-plus was the largest in the university's six-year soccer history.
In North Carolina's years at the top, it has been common for it to score early and often. Wednesday's game was no exception.
At just the 6:12 mark of the game, UNC midfielder Maggie Tomecka knocked in the first goal off a header from the left side. Tennessee would manage to get the ball in near the goal, but was unable to capitalize on key scoring opportunities.
Just over 10 minutes later, at the 16:18 mark, North Carolina would net another goal. Midfielder Jena Kluegel knocked in a rebound to put UNC up 2-0.
The next North Carolina goal would come just a single minute later. At the 17:19 mark, forward Anne Morrell eluded the Tennessee defenders and scored on a breakaway from the left side.
The final Tar Heels' goal of the half would come with just under five minutes remaining. At the 40:15 mark, UNC's Kluegel picked up her second goal of the night from 9 yards out off assists from Mary McDonnell and Tomecka.
At the half, Kelly laid out a different gameplan for Tennessee.
"I went in at the half and told our girls that we had to wipe the slate clean," Kelly said. "So we went out with the perspective that the score was tied at zero and anything we did was a new game."
North Carolina would score only once more. At the 53:24 mark, North Carolina's Morrell knocked in a goal assisted by midfielder Anne Remy.
Tennessee continued to keep pace with UNC, as they managed to gain ample opportunities to score around the goal. The Lady Vols, however, would have six shots-on-goal before finally capitalizing with a goal.
North Carolina, on the other hand, knocked in an astounding percentage of its shot attempts.
The Lady Vols would finally break the North Carolina defense to score with just under 16 minutes remaining in the game. In a fitting turnaround, Tennessee's junior forward Kim Patrick would knock in the goal on a penalty kick to put the Lady Vols on the
scoreboard.
Patrick, who transferred to Tennessee after spending her freshman and sophomore years playing for the Tar Heels, ended up scoring the first goal given up by UNC in the 2001 season.
The last time that North Carolina had given up a goal was back in the 2000 season when Patrick still wore Tar Heel blue.
"What's funny about the whole situation is that last year, every day in practice, we'd practice penalty kicks," Patrick said. "I'd go up against (UNC goalkeeper Jenni) Branam and practice the kicks just in case. I think she thought I was going to try and
trick her up, but I just kicked it straight at her and it went in."
Tennessee would score again with less than three minutes to go in the contest. At the 87:44 mark, midfielder Jen Laughridge scored on a goal deflected off of teammate Marie-Eve Nault to set the final score at 5-2.
The gutsy performance of the Lady Vols against the dominate Tar Heels left an impression with Kelly.
"If nothing else, I was very pleased with our effort," Kelly said. "As always, the girls went out there and fought hard for the entire game. I think that really will help our team down the road. If you can score twice on UNC, you can score twice on anyone
."
The Lady Vols will take a nine-day hiatus before returning to play to begin SEC competition on the road at Auburn on Oct. 5.