It took overtime, but the No. 14 Tennessee Lady Vols soccer team finally got their first win of the season against No. 6 Virginia on Sunday. Senior Ali Christoph hit a penalty kick in the 98th minute past UVA goalkeeper Christina de Vries for a 1-0 victory in a thriller. It was the first goal of the season for the All-American midfielder from Columbus, Ohio, and the first goal relinquished by Virginia all season. For Tennessee, neither one could have come at a better time. The game was nothing but sweet revenge for the Lady Vols, who lost to Virginia last year in the NCAA Tournament. With the win, Tennessee improved to 1-1 on the season while Virginia dropped to 3-1.
The penalty kick was caused when Tennessee freshman forward Devon Swaim was going down the field against Virginia defender Alli Fries and got tripped up inside the penalty box. Swaim had another chance to win the game earlier in the overtime period, but de Vries, who has been tremendous all season, stopped it. Virginia was held to zero shots in the overtime period.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson for the Lady Vols was brilliant as well. She made four saves in her very first career win.
The Lady Vols came out in the game planning to attack de Vries and get as many looks as possible. Three minutes into the game, Swaim took a shot from the left wing that failed to go in. The closest Tennessee came in the second half was in the 79th minute when sophomore forward Kylee Rossi tried to head in a free kick from Christoph. De Vries gave them a hard time all game long, as she was constantly snagging everything that got in her way.
“We came out very inspired in the second half,” UT coach Angela Kelly said in a press release. “We had a couple of changes that we needed to make. I’m a little disappointed in our performance in the first half. We still have to bring a consistent effort the entire game, but we still have a young team and it’s still early in the season. We’re just excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Throughout the match, Virginia had a 14-11 advantage in shots taken, but the Lady Vols had a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks. The Lady Cavaliers managed to take eight shots in the first half and six in the second, compared to Tennessee’s four in the first half, five in the second and two in the overtime period.
“When we come inspired and ready to play, we can compete with anyone in the country,” Kelly said in a press release. “I would like to see them play with that kind of inspiration for the full 90 minutes every time so that it becomes part of whom we are and not what just shows up sometimes. We’re going to work on that.”
Tennessee’s next game will be Friday against UNC Greensboro in Knoxville for the first game of the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic at 8 p.m. After that they will face Middle Tennessee State on Sunday at 3 p.m.