Returning to the field after a weekend sweep against No. 17 Central Florida and James Madison, the Tennessee women's soccer team is looking to extend its win streak to four as the Lady Vols host Dayton tonight and travel to Mercer on Sunday.
After a 2-1 upset in Orlando, Fla. last Friday and a shutout win against the Dukes at Regal Stadium on Sunday, three players won either national or conference recognitions for their on-field performances.
Junior forward Cheyenne Spade earned a spot on the CS360 Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll and junior goalkeeper Julie Eckel won the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Meanwhile, a third junior – forward Hannah Wilkinson – earned both the SEC Offensive Player of the Week and Top Drawer Soccer Player of the Week. Wilkinson scored three goals in the two weekend matches, including both of the Lady Vols' goals against James Madison.
"It's a pretty good honor, actually. I'm really proud to bring it to Tennessee," Wilkinson said about her awards. "I believe that this team needs a lot more recognition, and I have no doubt that we'll get that as we continue with success."
The Lady Vols did not crack the polls this week, but they are receiving votes in the NSCAA Coaches Poll.
One way to earn the respect that Wilkinson wants for her team is by winning. Friday's opponent, the Dayton Flyers (2-2), will look to bounce back after a 2-1 loss to Michigan State on Sunday. However, head coach Brian Pensky realizes that Dayton is not a team to take lightly.
"Dayton is going to be a very good team," Pensky said. "They have a bunch of attacking personalities who can score goals and who can put you on your heels. Our defending will have to be good."
Both Wilkinson and Pensky mentioned that the team has to do a better job of keeping the ball in their possession and execute the simple passes and the patterns of play. To fix the issues that Pensky noticed, the practices this week focused on improving the kicks and getting comfortable when Tennessee holds possession.
The Mercer Bears (2-1-1), a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, are currently in the middle of a four-game SEC slate. They face Auburn tonight after splitting their first two matches on the road against Georgia and Alabama, two teams that the Lady Vols beat in 2012.
Tennessee takes the field against Dayton tonight at 7 p.m. at Regal Stadium. Admission is free for everyone. In addition, the first 350 fans in attendance will receive a Lady Vols soccer towel. Sunday's game at Mercer will begin at 1 p.m.