After an upset win against Texas A&M, the Tennessee Lady Vols soccer team hopes to continue its momentum on the road this weekend against SEC foes LSU and Alabama.
The Vols (6-2-1, 1-0 SEC) began conference play with a 1-0 win last Friday against then-No. 20 Texas A&M. The Aggies were chosen to win the conference in the preseason.
Senior midfielder Carolina Brown said a win against a nationally respected team like Texas A&M gives the squad confidence going into the weekend.
"We are just looking to build off of what we did Friday night and keep that edge that we played with," Brown said.
The edge that Brown mentioned will be important going into the Bayou tonight. Similar to the LSU faithful that pack the football stadium on Saturdays, the Tigers' soccer stadium brings a distinct home-field advantage.
"I've never played at LSU, but I've heard from some of our older kids that it's a very tough place to play," said UT head coach Brian Pensky. "They send a pretty good crowd out there, and the crowd yells at us and gives us a hard time. It becomes a fun challenge."
The home-field advantage in Baton Rouge, La., that UT veterans mention is no exaggeration. In four home matches in 2013, the Tigers have shutout their opponent three times.
LSU (5-3-1, 1-0) comes into the 8 p.m. game with momentum similar to the Lady Vols. The Tigers defeated Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., last weekend to begin their SEC schedule with a win.
"They've got a bunch of young, attacking, talented players," Pensky said. "They are going to be a handful up front and we're going to need to be prepared to deal with that."
Following the match in Baton Rouge, La., the Lady Vols will use Saturday as a travel day to bus to Tuscaloosa, Al., for their Sunday match against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Crimson Tide (2-6-0, 0-1) have struggled this season. They have one win in September, and only one goal in the last five matches. The team has also been shut out in five of its six losses. However, Pensky knows that there are no pushovers in the SEC.
"Anytime you play a game in this league, if you aren't mentally ready to compete and play, you can get burned," Pensky said.
This will be Tennessee's first conference road trip of the season. Last year, the Lady Vols posted a 5-1 record as the visiting team during conference play and an overall SEC record of 9-3-1. They will look to mimic that success this season, but Brown realizes that SEC games are a battle.
"We have rivalries with a lot of them," she said. "We know a lot of the players. We've played against them before. More is put out there on the table."
Sunday's 2 p.m. match against Alabama will be televised on CSS and ESPN3.