Aug. 22, 2009
In front of a partisan crowd of 1,004 fans on a cooler-than-usual summer Saturday evening at the Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., senior forward Mick Imgram helped back the first career shutout from goalkeeper Molly Baird by tallying a pair of goals as No. 23 Tennessee (1-0) successfully opened its 2009 campaign with a dominant 2-0 victory over intra-state foe ETSU (0-1).
The Big Orange out-shot the Bucs by a commanding 21-5 total while dominating the majority of the run of play during the match. Six of UT's shots were on frame, forcing four saves by ETSU netminder Megan Masch.
"I am very excited with how our young team showed improvement tonight in its rhythm of play," Lady Vol head coach Angela Kelly said. "We want to get better week-in and week-out, and looked in this match, like a team that has been training now for 15 days instead of just seven. By next week, we'll be an even better team. We're pushing to get our injured players back. When you've got players like Chelsea (Hatcher), Anna (Fisher) and Julie (Edwards) sitting on the bench with injuries, it's important to have depth. We used 17 players today, and the level of play never dropped off. Give ETSU a lot of credit. They had an exceptional game-plan tonight and executed it very well. They certainly battled, were very physical and very well organized. It's hard to beat the type of formation they were using tonight. Mick Imgram having two goals is a great way for her to begin her fifth-year senior season, and Ali (Hall) played great for us again in the back, winning balls in the air and helping our attack get started."
Both squads wasted little time getting their first serious scoring chances on the board as both teams' offenses forced a pair of saves in the opening 13 minutes.
ETSU midfielder Jessica Huntingdon fired a low shot that was corralled by Baird at the 7:47 mark, while Imgram answered for Tennessee at 8:19 with one of her eight total shots and five shots on frame in the contest. The same duo fired again just minutes later at 10:49 (Huntingdon) and 13:02 (Imgram), respectively, as both goalkeepers proved up to the early task.
Dribbling briskly up the left side of the pitch just past the 15-minute mark, Dowd lifted a cross into the 18-yard box that Shore managed to get a quick flick on before Imgram settled the ball at her feet. She quickly fired a shot past Masch and into the back of the net as the Lady Vols grabbed a quick, one-goal advantage.
The Bucs attempted to answer immediately as ETSU forward Jordan Monty fired a shot at 15:45 that a diving Baird nabbed for her third early save of the contest.
UT posted several decent scoring chances over the next 20+ minutes as a shot by Hall drifted high, one from Shore went wide and Imgram had a blast blocked out in front of the net.
Perhaps Tennessee's best chance for a second tally in the opening stanza came at the 40:42 mark as freshman forward Alexis Owens swiped a bad ETSU pass and made a quick run toward goal. On the run, the Carmel, Ind., product fired, but the sphere rolled just wide left of the goal mouth. Rookie midfielder Amy Harrison followed just three minutes later with a shot that also drifted just wide of the net.
The two squads went to the break with the Big Orange holding a one-goal lead and dominating offensively with an 11-4 shot advantage.
Outside of a quick shot from Imgram at 46:10, neither squad got much going offensive in the second half until the 60th-minute when Hall again missed high.
With UT searching for a big insurance tally, Imgram finally provided it at 77:36. Having intercepted a Buc pass, she turned and unleashed a lazer toward goal from approximately 25 yards out, beating a diving Masch to the left side as the lead expanded to 2-0.
From there, Tennessee's defense held off any late ETSU rally attempt by successfully clearing a pair of corner kicks to secure the shutout victory and win number one of the 2009 campaign.
The Big Orange will continue its homestand next weekend by hosting the annual First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic over Aug. 28-30. During the event, UT will face Arizona State (8 p.m., Friday) and Pepperdine (3 p.m., Sunday). Kansas and Pepperdine will kick-off the event on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Regal Soccer Stadium. Live stats and video will be available for Tennessee's matches through utladyvols.com.