Allie Sirna’s childhood revolved around soccer.   

She would always go to her older brother’s games and watch him play, and it didn’t take long for Sirna to start playing thegame herself. 

“When I was young I was involved in a lot of different things. I looked up to my brother a lot and he started playing soccer when he was young, so my mom would always force me to go to his games,” Sirna said. “That really got me hooked and got me started.”

Sirna’s brother may have been her initial push in soccer, but what has allowed Sirna to compete at a Division I level and have a smooth transition from high school soccer to an SEC team is her strong work ethic.

“It’s a lot more intense. The speed of the game is a lot faster, just the work ethic you have to pick it up,” said Sirna. “You’re thrown into a very intense atmosphere right away, so you just have to focus a lot and do the best you can.”

Sirna has had no problem adjusting. She started all 22 matches for the Lady Vols as a freshman and played 2,006 out of a possible 2,020 minutes. She was ranked No. 75 on Top Drawer Soccer’s list of its Top 100 National Freshman of 2011 and was chosen to the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic All-Tournament Team. Sirna has started all seven games this year, her sophomore season, and has helped lead the Lady Vols to five shutouts.  

Sirna’s work eithic is something that her teammate, goalie Julie Eckel, has noticed.

“She ran five days a week, (but) in our packet it said three days a week,” Eckel said. “It’s the little extra stuff she’s doing off the field that people don’t notice.”

Sirna’s hard work has paid off. The Lady Volunteers are off to a 5-1-1 start. They lost a 1-0 game against No. 2 ranked UCLA. They have only allowed two goals in the seven games they have played and have outscored their opponents 14-2.

“I think it’s been a great start. We worked really hard in the preseason and in the offseason,” said Sirna. “I think we’ve done really well in learning how to play with each other, and with the new freshman getting adjusted to them and how they play and everybody has been working really hard, so I think it’s reflected in how we’ve been doing so far.”

With such a strong defense, Eckel has been able to relax more during the games.

“It makes me feel so much more comfortable so that I can relax during games,” said Eckel, “just knowing that our back line as a whole is so solid. (Sirna) is one of the fastest players that I’ve ever played with, so if anyone on our back line gets beat you know that she’ll be there to cover it.”

The Lady Vols will open up conference play this weekend when they take on The University of Alabama tomorrow at 7 p.m., and on Sunday afternoon when they take on Vanderbilt University at 2 p.m. Both games will be played at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville.