Coming off two hard-fought victories in the past week, the Lady Vols soccer team took the field Friday night at Regal Stadium with the hope of winning their third straight game, and kick-starting another successful weekend.
The team followed suit with that plan.
Despite three key players missing from the starting lineup, the Lady Vols managed to defeat the Dayton Flyers, 2-0, and extend their winning streak to three.
Tennessee struck early, with senior forward Caroline Brown taking advantage of a well-played cross from reigning National Player of the Week Hannah Wilkinson 14 minutes into the game.
"I think it was helpful (Dayton) had a high back line," Wilkinson said. "One of my strengths is to be able to get in behind the back line, especially with a team like ours that can recognize a high line."
The Lady Vols struck again in the 35th minute when Wilkinson – assisted by junior midfielder Tori Bailey – was able to finish a one-on-one with Dayton keeper Elizabeth James for her fourth goal in the past three games.
Tennessee's young players provided key minutes all evening.
"Katie Lenz was out with the ankle, Cheyenne Spade with a little bit of an illness, CC Cobb with a little bit of an illness," head coach Brian Pensky said. "Our first three off the bench were three freshman who had to give us some key minutes.
"We just have to be a versatile team," Pensky said. "We started two or three players in spots today that they have not even trained for us in those spots yet in their career."
Friday's win marked goalie junior goalkeeper Julie Eckel's second straight shutout as she recorded six saves in the the victory.
"Julie doesn't give stuff away," Pensky said. "She really makes all the saves she is supposed to make cleanly, and then she can make plenty of spectacular saves as well."
With just one weekend of non-conference play remaining before its SEC schedule begins, Tennessee is hoping to build off the momentum it has created on its early season win-streak.
"I think winning helps, it helps our confidence," Wilkinson said. "We have a word that we go by called 'relentless' and as long as we live by that I think we will be successful."
Coach Pensky is also pleased with the intensity he has seen from his team in the past two weeks.
"You can't get a shutout if you don't compete, and we compete for every first and second ball," Pensky said. "Our competitiveness the last couple weekends has been pretty good so far.
"Last weekend had two games that were just fights and scrapping and competitiveness, and tonight had plenty of that too."
The Lady Vols closed their weekend with a 2-0 win at Mercer on Sunday to improve to 5-1 on the year.