Grace Cuenin (21), Anna Fisher (7)
Sept. 5, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - West Virginia freshman forward Blake Miller's game winner in the 81st minute lifted the No. 13 Mountaineers over the 20th-ranked Tennessee women's soccer team, 1-0, on Friday night. The match was the Lady Vols' first of the 2008 First Tennessee Classic and marked their first loss at home since 2006.
"All the credit goes to West Virginia," UT Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "I have a ton of respect for their coaching staff. They have a lot of talent on their team and they are always very well organized. They showed that this evening."
After playing to a scoreless tie through 80 minutes, Miller finally broke through the Tennessee defense. The St. Louis, Mo., native brought the ball into the box before she blasted a shot from six yards out into the upper right corner of the net. The goal was the first the Orange and White has allowed at home since Sept. 27, 2007, a span of 650:30.
The goal gave the Mountaineers just enough of a cushion to hold on for the final nine minutes, and to improve to 3-1-0 on the season. Despite creating several scoring chances throughout the match, the Lady Vols dropped to 1-3-0 overall in 2008.
Both teams came out of the gate looking to score, combining to put three shots on goal in the first 20 minutes of the match. Senior forward Kylee Rossi had Tennessee's best chance of the night when she caught West Virginia keeper Kerri Butler out of position in the fourth minute. Rossi's shot nearly found the back of the net, however, Mountaineer defender Greer Barnes got to it first, clearing it off the line to keep the game scoreless.
"There are some things we're going to fix and we're going to move forward," Kelly said. "I think Kylee has to take the chances she has. I think she played very tentative tonight. We're going to sort that out pronto. If she scores when she had that opportunity in the first five minutes, perhaps the game would have had a different outcome."
WVU put Lady Vol senior keeper Jaimel Johnson to work in the first half, forcing the Dayton, Ohio, native to make all three of her saves during the initial 45 minutes. Tennessee went to the locker room with six shots in the half, two of which were on frame.
The second half saw both teams continue to push for the go-ahead goal, sharing possession and nearly matching their shot statistics from the first frame. In the 51st minute, Johnson forced her counterpart to make a save after turning a free kick from near midfield into a shot on goal.
West Virginia finished the match with 12 shots, while UT took 10. The Lady Vols held a 6-1 advantage on corner kicks, but could not convert on the set pieces, including a corner from sophomore defender Tanya Emerson with 33 seconds remaining in the match. Tennessee has taken 31 corners, while holding opponents to just four this season.
The Big Orange will look to rebound on Sunday when it takes on No. 15 Illinois at 2 p.m. The Fighting Illini topped Washington State in Friday's early match, 2-1, getting the game winner from Cory Steigerwald in the 67th minute. WVU will face the Cougars in Sunday's first match at 11:30 a.m.
"Illinois is a big team," Kelly said. "They are physical and they are going to be dynamic up top. We're going to have to regroup because we're coming off of a loss, but that doesn't matter. We have to take it one game at a time. It's going to be an absolute battle again."