The Lady Vol soccer squad (7-5-2, 3-2-1 Southeastern Conference) defeated Mississippi State and tied Mississippi over the weekend at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville.
Despite severe weather in the Knoxville area that forced a 50-minute delay at halftime and near constant rain during the second stanza, Tennessee put a season-high three goals in the back of the net to roll past Mississippi State, 3-0, on Friday night at the Regal Soccer Stadium.
Tennessee out-shot the Maroon & White by a commanding 23-10 total, drew five corners to zero for MSU and became just the second team to hold the Bulldogs scoreless during the ‘09 campaign.
UT goalkeeper Molly Baird, junior, picked up her sixth career shutout and third league blanking by recording five saves during the match.
The scoreless deadlock was broken at 15:15 off a cross from the right wing by freshman Jayden Barrett. The Corona, Calif., native’s feed found Harrison standing in the middle of the penalty area, and she turned and passed to Chelsea Hatcher who was racing quickly from behind into the play. The Cincinnati, Ohio, product ripped a quick shot into goal past MSU goalie Taryn Holland from about 12 yards out for a 1-0 lead.
As the half neared its conclusion, high winds began buffeting the complex, and then with 3:43 remaining in the opening stanza, heavy rain struck as both teams struggled in the difficult conditions. After both teams had moved to their dressing areas and the fans were sent to safe zones in the stadium, Knox County was placed under a tornado warning, forcing a delay of about 50 minutes.
Imgram added to Tennessee’s lead as the Clifton, Va., native corralled a poor clearance attempt by the Bulldogs and ripped a shot from just outside the top of the 18-yard penalty area that traveled into the lower left corner of the net for a 2-0 advantage.
The Lady Vols responded quickly at 56:07 with their third goal as Harrison shot from the right side, about eight yards out. Holland made an initial save, but the rebound traveled straight to the far post where Imgram was waiting to tap the ball into the twine for a 3-0 lead.
From there, UT managed eight additional shots at the Mississippi State end, two on frame, while the Bulldogs got high efforts from Walsh at 69:01 and Katy Hoover at 80:22 as Tennessee prevailed with a commanding three-goal victory.
With 1,007 Orange-clad fans in attendance at the Regal Soccer Stadium and a national television audience watching live on ESPNU, UT forward Emily Dowd, sophomore, drew a crucial penalty in the 18-yard box late in the second half, and senior Mick Imgram converted the ensuing penalty kick at 81:40 to help Tennessee rally to a 1-1 (2OT) tie against 24th-ranked Ole Miss on Sunday.
For Imgram, the goal marked her SEC-leading ninth tally of the 2009 campaign and solidified the Clifton, Va., native’s hold on 10th all-time in Lady Vol history with 22 career scores.
The Orange & White had the best of the very early chances as freshmen forwards Jayden Barrett and Alexis Owens forced saves by Ole Miss keeper Alley Ronaldi at 4:28 and 6:30, respectively.
It didn’t take long for the SEC’s top-scoring team to make its mark in the attacking third as Ole Miss nabbed a 1-0 lead at 11:23. Forward Hannah Weatherly worked the ball up the left wing, crossing eventually to the middle of the 18-yard box where midfielder Danielle Johnson slid a right-footed shot past a diving Molly Baird and into the goal for a quick one-score advantage.
Tennessee turned up the offensive heat in the 64th minute, forcing back-to-back corners in the attacking third. At 68:46, a Lady Vol free kick was drilled into the penalty area by Imgram. The ball ricocheted between numerous players out front, and the only shot UT could manage was a blocked one from Barrett at about 12 yards out. Just 10 seconds later, Hatcher forced a Ronaldi save by driving a header to the right post off another Big Orange free kick.
Finally in the 82nd minute, Dowd got a step on Ole Miss defender Brittany King and was brought down from behind in the 18-yard box as the head referee signaled for a penalty kick. Imgram calmly stepped to the spot and tucked the ball inside the right post to draw the two teams even at 1-1.
The Rebels had the better of the early chances in the initial “sudden victory” overtime. Baird stopped a Johnson shot at 93:05, and then a Cunningham drive just missed the top right corner before landing on the top of the twine for a goal kick.
With time running short in the first OT, Hatcher launched a shot from about 25 yards out on the right wing that forced another Ronaldi stop.
The best chance for either team during the remainder of the second 10 minutes looked to have been on a header by Lady Vol freshman midfielder Amy Harrison. On a long free kick from the right wing by Imgram, Harrison leapt clear of the crowd and drilled a shot toward goal that drifted just high and out of play.
Tennessee returns to television next Friday night on Fox Sports South (FSS) and SUN Sports in a 7 p.m. match-up against nationally-ranked Florida at the Regal Soccer Stadium.
Soccer squad escapes weekend without loss
Published: Tue Oct 13, 2009