An 80th-minute goal by sophomore forward Emily Redberg gave Tennessee a 1-0 win over Auburn Sunday in Orange Beach, Ala., and its third SEC Tournament title in the last four years.
“I would first like to congratulate Auburn on a great tournament and a very tough performance today,” Tennessee coach Angela Kelly said. “They were a different team than what we saw in Knoxville two weeks ago. I am so proud of my team in the way that they executed the game plan in the second half.”
Redberg got the ball in the penalty box and fired on goal, where Auburn goalkeeper Anna Fiser stopped the first attempt. But the sophomore controlled the rebound and punched it past Fiser at 79:34 for her fourth goal of the season and second of the year against the Tigers.
Tennessee’s defense was outstanding, setting a new team record by not allowing a goal in the last 411 minutes of play, topping the mark set earlier this season in a five-match stretch. Senior goalkeeper Vanessa Phillips-Bosshart got her 32nd career shutout, moving to one behind Auburn’s Megan Rivera in conference history in that category.
The Lady Vols (14-5-2) dominated the second half of play from the start, getting four good looks at goal in the first four minutes. SEC All-Freshman Team forward Jackie Acevedo took the first opportunity in the first minute, having her shot from 17 yards out blocked by the Auburn (8-12-1) defense.
Sophomore forward Hayley Prendergast tried next, having her 7-yard punch saved by Fiser after a freshman Kylee Rossi cross. The 48th minute saw an indirect kick by junior defender Jenny Jeffers and a cross by Rossi across the six get cleared by the Tigers. Finally the barrage ended in the 49th minute, as Prendergast fired a shot from 17 yards out that went right.
Tennessee kept the pressure on Auburn in the 53rd as Rossi had a tap from 8 yards out that Fiser snagged. Two minutes later, midfielder Ali Christoph drove a laser toward goal from the top of the box, but the ball stayed high.
“We played a quick one- and two-touch rhythm and were dynamic up top,” Kelly said. “We won the 50-50 balls in the midfield and were so solid in the back. We possessed the ball so well, and this will be great for us to build on for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.”