Nine seconds away from victory. That's how close the Lady Vols were to advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but now their season is over.
With victory all but in sight, the Lady Vols watched a one goal lead slip away as Miami (OH) sophomore midfielder Kelsey Dinges scored an equalizer goal with nine seconds remaining to force overtime, where the Redhawks would advance on the goal by junior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski.
As head coach Brian Pensky stated, this will be a game that hurts himself as well as the players.
"I just told the kids that we're sorry," Pensky said. "Our wound is pretty open right now. Our kids are hurting, especially our kids that don't get to do this any longer as seniors. We're also in shock. You don't give away a goal with nine seconds left all that often. I still don't think that when we went into overtime that we imagined ourselves losing this game. I'd say we're shocked and we're hurting right now."
While the equalizer goal must have come as a surprise to the Lady Vols, junior midfielder Tori Bailey said that the goal didn't bring the team down.
"I think we took that goal and used it towards our energy," Bailey said. "It kinda pissed us off more than it brought us down. We didn't imagine going into overtime, so I think if anything that was a little disappointing, but we were pretty positive and still had energy going into overtime."
Bailey also stated that she was surprised they didn't win based on how much they dominated time of possession, especially in overtime where they had two corner kicks in the first three minutes.
"I still don't think it's hit me yet, to tell you the truth," Bailey said. "I feel like we had pretty good possession the whole game and we had the ball the whole game and I think we had more shots on goal and crosses, but that's the game of soccer, you can have many opportunities but you just gotta get one to go in and they got lucky today."
Even in the midst of celebrating with his team, Redhawks head coach Bobby Kramig had nothing but praise for the Lady Vols and the way they played.
"I would first congratulate Tennessee on an outstanding season," Kramig said. "They are without question the best team we've seen all year. They certainly came prepared to do battle today. It was quite a test."
For senior defender Ali Hall, this defeat means that she has played her last game in a Tennessee uniform along with her other senior teammates.
"I'm hurting obviously, but I'm really lucky to play with these girls," Hall said. "I'm kinda thinking about what's going to happen after this in my life and everything, but I'm just soaking it in right now."
The loss ends the Lady Vols' season at 14-5-3. The Redhawks will move on to play the Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the tournament.