April 21, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Lady Volunteer soccer team traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C. on Saturday to face Wake Forest closing out the 2012 spring campaign.
With Saturday being the final match of the 2012 spring for the two schools, both coaching staffs agreed to playing three, thirty minute periods to build endurance heading into the summer offseason.
The first ten minutes of the match found opportunities for both teams, but neither squad could capitalize. Tennessee would lead the Demon Deacons in shots on goal 2-1, but still no shot would connect with the back of the goal.
The Lady Vols would find the needed spark from rising senior forward Alexis Owens on a breakaway. Owens was able to beat a defender off a dribble and finally finish past the Wake Forest goalkeeper on the near post with the assist coming from fellow rising senior, Kylie Bono.
The Demon Deacons, however, would not go away quietly. As one of last season's final four squads at the College Cup, Wake Forest answered swiftly by finishing on a set piece off a corner kick, tying the match at 1-1.
Once again, the Lady Vols would need an answer, and once again it would come from the boot of rising senior Alexis Owens. With solid offensive ball movement, Owens would find the back of the net off an assist from fellow forward Iyana Moore.
Heading into the first intermission, the Lady Vols would lead Wake Forest, 2-1 at Spry Stadium.
During the short break, head coach Brian Pensky stressed to his team the importance of defensive shape. Being no stranger to ACC soccer or competing against Wake Forest, coach Pensky knew that establishing a strong midfield presence to cut off passing lanes would be the difference between a win and a loss in Winston-Salem.
Throughout the second half of play, the Demon Deacons would pepper shots around the face of the goal. The Lady Vol defense however, would stand firm much like they have all spring. Consistency on defense would be the name of the game for the rest of the period, as Tennessee would take control of overall ball possession.
With any scenario Wake Forest threw at Tennessee, whether it be corners, free kicks, or set pieces, the second period saw the Lady Vols affectively regain composure and control while clearing loose balls up to the midfield. Entering the second and final break of the afternoon, the Lady Vols would still lead the Deamon Deacons 2-1.
As the third period of play began, the Volunteers needed to flex their defensive muscle while continuing to create opportunities by putting shots on frame. Most importantly, the Lady Vols needed to maintain their stamina, given the squad only had one substitution. Wake Forest on the other hand, rolled subs in and out throughout the contest.
With these fresh legs on the pitch, Wake Forest would be able to capitalize off another corner-kick, tying the match at 2-2 with less than ten minutes remaining in the contest.
Shortly following the Demon Deacon's second goal, both squads would trade free kicks with no result. The Lady Vols quickly found adversity as offensive Wake Forest pressure built in the remaining minutes.
The contest would end on a rocket from forward Alexis Owens that was punched away by the Demon Deacon goalkeeper. Tennessee would tie Wake Forest with a final score of 2-2.
Without a doubt, the Lady Vols showed how strong they could be this coming fall. Wake Forest, who lost in the semifinals of the Final Four last season, has virtually all of its team returning in the fall and will look to be back in the College Cup. Defensively, the Lady Vols did not give up the tying goal till seven minutes remaining in the contest and that too is something of note.
With the conclusion of the afternoon's match, the 2012 Lady Vol spring soccer season came to a conclusion. Be on the lookout for a spring recap in the coming days.