After struggling to put the ball in the net in recent matches, the Lady Vols soccer team is aiming to make a late-season push in the SEC standings this weekend against the nationally-ranked Florida Gators and the Missouri Tigers.
The Lady Vols (7-6-3, 2-4-2 SEC) limp into this weekend's games after tying Auburn, 1-1, in two overtimes and falling at Arkansas, 2-1, last week.
They have not won a match since Oct. 4.
But senior Caroline Brown asserted that this stretch of games without a win has not created a negative vibe in the locker room.
"We're all on our toes, ready to fight, ready to go out there so we can win a game," Brown said. "We've been fighting. We've been doing the things we need to do, and it just hasn't been going our way. We're pretty anxious to get out there and get the W."
That "W" the team has long been awaiting could come as early as tonight. The No. 7 Florida Gators (12-3-1, 6-2 SEC) will take the field at Regal Soccer Stadium, looking to stretch their winning streak to five games. In their last four contests, they have scored 10 goals and posted four shutouts.
The combination of a high-scoring offense and a stealthy defense from the second-place SEC team will be a challenge for the Lady Vols, but head coach Brian Pensky believes his team is capable of beating the Gators.
"They're one of the best possession teams in the league, and they are one of the best attacking teams in the league," Pensky said. "We're going to try to limit their dangerous possessions."
Pensky also said he wants to keep Florida's possessions in its back half, not allowing the Gators to penetrate through the Lady Vol defense.
For six Lady Vols, Friday will be a final chance to leave Regal Stadium with a win. While senior night can be emotional for some, Brown believes this is an ideal senior night.
"There is nothing like playing under the lights on Friday night at this stadium," Brown said. "It is incredible."
After their final regular season game in Regal Stadium, the Lady Vols will take flight to Columbia, Mo., to battle the Missouri Tigers on Sunday.
The Tigers (7-7-2, 3-3-2 SEC), like the Lady Vols, have struggled to get the ball in the net. Since Sept. 27, Missouri has scored two or more goals in a game only once.
Hannah Wilkinson, a junior forward who typically starts for the Lady Vols, will not be with the team this weekend. A native of New Zealand and a member of the national team, Wilkinson and her team will play two friendlies against the United States national team on Sunday and Wednesday.
The matchup against the Gators tonight will begin at 7 p.m. Tennessee is also hosting "Goal Pink" night where fans are encouraged to wear pink to help raise breast cancer awareness with the first 250 fans receiving a free "Goal Pink" T-shirt.
Tennessee's match against the Missouri Tigers will be Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.