Sept. 2, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With the Big Orange in need of a late spark in a scoreless contest, Tennessee senior forward Emily Dowd provided just that by tallying goals in both the 82nd and 83rd minutes, off assists from sophomore forward Caroline Brown, to lead the Lady Vol soccer squad (4-1-0) past Middle Tennessee, 2-0.
With the victory, UT has now equaled its best five-match start in program history done by both the 2002 and 2003 Orange & White squads on the way to eventual NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.
Dowd's scores marked her first two of the campaign, while Brown has now surpassed her entire 2010 point total (eight) over just five matches thus far in 2011 with four goals and two assists (10 points). Junior midfielder Kylie Bono fired a game-high five shots for the Lady Vols, while junior defender Ali Hall, seeing her first match action of the season, tantalizingly hit the crossbar with a sliding drive at 54:36.
Tennessee out-shot the Blue Raiders, 21-15, including a staggering 12-3 advantage during the second half of the contest, and won the corner kick battle, 12-7.
UT freshman keeper Julie Eckel made a career-high eight saves in posting her second consecutive solo shutout as the Lady Vol defense hasn't allowed a goal over the last 185:38 of game action.
"Credit Middle Tennessee, they ran at us, came at us, and we certainly had to solve some things at half time," Lady Vol Head Soccer Coach Angela Kelly said. "It was a tremendous second half for our squad. I'm pleased with our execution in the second half. Middle Tennessee certainly challenged us, and the experience will make us better. We have a lot of things we will take from this game and learn from. I'm proud of Emily Dowd with two goals. That's great for her. Caroline Brown's off to a tremendous start to the new season, having exceeded her entire point total for last year over just five matches."
Middle Tennessee came out looking to control things early on, earning a quick corner kick just two minutes in after Tennessee freshman defender Alison Clarke was forced to clear a ball deep in UT territory over the end line.
Over the first 13:44 of the contest, the Blue Raiders fired four shots as midfielder Paige Goeglein launched a pair of drives wide, forward Shan Jones missed outside the frame and forward Regina Thomas had a shot blocked by UT's defense.
Eckel came up big for the Lady Vols between the pipes at 15:39 as Goeglein broke in one-on-one near the left post. The Cordova, Tenn., native raced off her line and slid to make another brilliant save to keep the match scoreless.
A Tennessee corner kick at 18:35 helped swing the momentum in the Orange & White's favor as a cross by senior midfielder Emily Shore landed at the feet of UT junior midfielder Amy Harrison. She teed up the Lady Vols' first shot of the match from the top of the 18-yard box, but it was saved by MTSU keeper Rebecca Cushing. Off a rebound, senior forward Chelsea Hatcher shot wide left from about 18 yards.
During the 24th minute Brown crossed a ball from right to left across the 18 that located Dowd in the middle. The Gainesville, Fla., product fired quickly but her shot was blocked. A follow-up by Bono drifted wide left of the post as UT's offense continued to threaten.
Despite numerous chances down the stretch in the opening frame, neither squad could trouble the other's keeper. Eckel was forced into three fairly routine stops over the final 17:50 of the stanza as the teams went to the break at 0-0.
Tennessee came out of the locker room with new found energy, earning consecutive corners at 46:13 and 47:47. On the second of the two crosses, freshman midfielder Lexi Krause and Bono each forced stops by MTSU's Cushing.
Hall came oh so close to granting the Big Orange the lead at 54:36 as a pass from the left wing found the Hawthorn Woods, Ill., native racing in towards the right post. She slid and chipped a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar before being cleared.
After tons of Lady Vol pressure, Brown's speed finally forced a Middle Tennessee defensive miscue as she was taken down in the box, forcing the head referee to point to the spot. On the penalty kick try, Brown's shot was saved and then Tennessee was called offside trying to build a follow-up threat at goal.
With regulation time beginning to ebb away, the Big Orange finally struck at 81:24 as a Brown cross from the left wing was perfectly placed to Dowd charging in toward the right post. An easy tap-in from about two yards was all that was required to grant UT a 1-0 lead.
It seemed like a near replay just 1:17 later as Brown fed a through ball to Dowd in the clear racing up the right side. She moved in on frame one-on-one versus Cushing and easily deposited her second goal of the night in the lower left corner of the twine.
From there UT burnt off the remaining time, refusing to allow Middle Tennessee much possession and zero shots in the offensive end to secure the 2-0 victory.
Tennessee returns to action on Sun., Sept. 4, in Greensboro, N.C., in a 2 p.m. ET match against UNC Greensboro.