Fueled by Friday night's upset win at Central Florida, the Lady Vols soccer team took the field again Sunday afternoon hoping to build off Friday's momentum and cap off an already successful weekend in Tennessee athletics.
While conditions were not ideal for the Tennessee team, they were able to fight through fatigue as a result of a hot and humid afternoon, and grind out a 2-0 victory over James Madison.
"We had an emotional, difficult win on Friday, and a long day of travel yesterday, and then you come out in the heat on Sunday and battle against a good team," head coach Brian Pensky said. "James Madison is a good team, and they had some good players, and we had some challenges we needed to deal with."
The Lady Vols started strong, scoring just four minutes into the game as junior Hannah Wilkinson pushed home her first of two goals on a through ball from junior midfielder Cheyenne Spade that gave Wilkinson a one-on-one with the goalie.
"They played a very high line, and we knew that we were going to get chances behind their back line," Pensky said. "The high line and their three in the midfield was tough to play through at times, so we did play some good balls in behind it, and created chances."
"It was a really good ball through from the midfield," Wilkinson said. "And I just saw the keeper coming out and just dribbled past her to my left, and slid it in right past her."
The assist from Spade gave her three in her last two games as the North Carolina State transfer has played a key role in UT's 3-1 start.
Wilkinson scored the lone goal in the first half as the Lady Vols took a 1-0 lead into halftime, where the Vols received a fiery halftime speech from Pensky.
"I was a little tough on them at halftime," Pensky said. "But that can't affect their confidence going forward."
Pensky's fiery words worked.
The Lady Vols came out aggressive in the second half as they outshot the Dukes 12-4 in the second period, but struggled to finish shots.
"We obviously could have done better with some of our opportunities," Pensky said. "We had several balls that could have been slipped across the six just to be tapped in, and we didn't really make the goalkeeper make any spectacular saves."
However, in the 76th minute Wilkinson connected on another goal, this time off a pass from sophomore midfielder Suzanne Capocaccia.
Wilkinson's second goal closed the door on the Dukes.
"(Capocaccia) played a lofted ball through the back line," Wilikinson said. "Then same thing, onto my left past the keeper and in."
Wilkinson cited the momentum the Vols now possess after the two wins this weekend.
"Especially after the win at UCF," Wilkinson said, "I think that really lifted our confidence going forward."
Pensky said he was most pleased by the fact that the Vols were able to register their first shutout of the season.
"It was our first clean sheet, and we have had four games," Pensky said. "We had yet to keep a team off the scoreboard, so I'm very happy to finally get a shutout."
The Lady Vols next matchup will come against Dayton at home on Friday at 7 p.m.