Aug. 31, 2008
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The University of Tennessee women's soccer team put up a strong fight on Sunday morning, but could not hold off No. 2 North Carolina which needed just one goal to top the 14th-ranked Lady Vols, 1-0, at Aggie Soccer Stadium. The result was the closest between the two teams since a 2004 draw, while the meeting marked the 10th all-time between UNC and UT.
"I'm so proud the way that our girls represented the jersey that they wear today," UT Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "That's all I've been preaching to them this whole preseason. I'm just very proud of the backline, the midfield and the forwards. We didn't win so that's never going to be acceptable but, if we continue to compete this way and build on this, we're going to be in every match and battling with the best teams in the country. That's all I can ask for."
Carolina junior forward Nikki Washington put away the eventual game winner for UNC in the 28th minute. After racing to a ball on the left wing, Washington dribbled into the box where she ripped a shot from 12 yards, putting it past UT senior keeper Jaimel Johnson and into the back right corner of the net. The goal was Washington's first of the season, but capped a weekend that saw her score the game winner on Sunday and assist on the game winner on Friday.
"All the credit goes to North Carolina," Kelly said. "They created superior scoring opportunities. Nikki Washington's goal was an incredible finish. It wasn't a shot, it was a world-class finish. She deserves all the credit in the world because I think Jaimel Johnson had a fantastic game."
The Lady Vols played a complete game, creating numerous scoring chances while limiting UNC to just six shots on goal. Tennessee started off the first half with several quality chances, the best coming from sophomore forward Devon Swaim and senior forward Kylee Rossi in the third minute. Swaim fed Rossi a ball in the box where she rifled a shot that curled towards the upper right corner but sailed just wide.
Coming out of the locker room trailing 1-0, the Orange and White came out ready to score, nearly doubling its offensive output from the first half in the final 45 minutes. UT posted seven strikes in the second half, with two coming from junior midfielder Mick Imgram. The Clifton, Va., native led the Big Orange with five shots, including the squad's only strike on goal.
The Lady Vols stepped it up defensively in the second half as well, holding Carolina to just five shots, none of which were on frame. Senior midfielder Leslie Vineyard did her part to hold UNC Olympic gold medalist and junior midfielder Tobin Heath to just four shots in the match, while the UT backline blocked two shots and broke up several Tar Heel scoring opportunities.
Tennessee drops to 1-2-0 overall and recorded an 0-2-0 second weekend after falling to Indiana on Friday. The loss, however, marks one of the closest results in program history against Carolina, which has won nine of the 10 total matches between the teams. Tennessee's defense has held UNC to one goal or less just once before, during a 0-0 tie in 2004.
"Friday was a disappointment to me and my staff because we just didn't compete and that needed to change," Kelly said. "Today our players represented themselves, their teammates and the University of Tennessee very well. They executed our game plan."
UT will play at Regal Soccer Stadium for the first time this season next weekend, hosting the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic on Sept. 5 and 7. The Orange and White will be looking to extend a 13-match home unbeaten streak. The tournament is set to feature No. 18 Illinois, No. 11 West Virginia and Washington State.