Sept. 14, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Senior Kylie Bono punched in the winning goal in overtime to lift Tennessee past Alabama 2-1 in the SEC soccer opener Friday at Regal Stadium.
Bono recorded her third goal of the season on a rebound off the goalkeeper with 3:10 left in the first overtime as Tennessee improved to 6-1-1 this season.
"We talk a lot about getting something across the goalkeeper's face and disrupting her and making it hard for her," head coach Brian Pensky said. "When you're fortunate enough to have a 5-11 striker on the team as Hannah Wilkinson is, she got across her face and kept the ball alive. I tell you what, a lot of kids sky that ball over the crossbar. Kylie Bono did a great job, clinically just punching it into the back of the net. Great effort all around from a number of players."
Both teams did their scoring in the opening minutes of the match. Laura Lee Smith put Alabama (5-2, 0-1 SEC) in the lead early when she took a header off a corner kick by Merel Van Dongen and an assist by Theres Diederich in the 12th minute.
Alabama's lead did not last for long, thanks to the work of Tennessee's newest addition. After receiving a pass from Tori Bailey at midfield, Hannah Wilkinsonevened the score at 1-1 with her first goal in Tennessee uniform. Wilkinson flew down the left side and used a clever move to evade two defenders near six yards out before turning and firing.
Wilkinson was playing just her third match for Tennessee and was making her home debut for the Lady Vols. She joined the team during its road trip to California last week after completing play for New Zealand in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.
Sophomore goalkeeper Julie Eckel improved to 6-1-1 on the season, recording four saves in her third match calling for overtime duty of the season.
The Tennessee soccer program celebrated its alumni weekend Friday night by recognizing the alums in attendance at halftime. One former Lady Vol making her triumphant return to Knoxville was Rhian Wilkinson (2000-03, forward), UT's all-time leader in assists, who brought the 2012 Olympic bronze medal she earned for Canada to Friday's game.
Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
NOTES: Tennessee improved to 11-5-1 in SEC openers and 7-1 in conference openers at home ... Once at UT outshot its opponent, leading Alabama 25-12 in that category ... Wilkinson had a team-leading eight shots, three of them on goal ... Iyana Moore and Susan Ferguson both had two shots on goal.
Wilkinson Wows Home Crowd In Regal Debut
By Brian Rice, UTSports.com
It was quite the opening night at Regal Stadium for Hannah Wilkinson.
After appearing as a sub in her first two matches as a Lady Vol, Wilkinson's first appearance in front of the home crowd also marked her first start. A little over 16 minutes into the game, Wilkinson had another first.
Alabama held a 1-0 lead after converting a corner kick in the 12th minute. Tori Bailey took a ball just shy of the midfield stripe and played it up to Wilkinson just across midfield. Wilkinson used her speed to get past the Alabama defenders before making a sudden cut toward the center.
"It was a really good ball from Tori down the line," Wilkinson said. "I felt confident enough to take on the player beside me, then set myself up with the touch. When I had a clear shot, I took it."
And by saying "took it," Wilkinson means she uncorked a right-footed blast that ended up rippling the back of the net past the sprawling Shelby Church and tied the game at 1-1. The goal was the first of her Tennessee career and a great welcome to Rocky Top.
The home debut capped off a run for Wilkinson that included the Olympics with the New Zealand National Team and a run at the U-20 World Championships with New Zealand's U-20 team. Wilkinson said that with UT's SEC season just getting in full swing, she isn't done yet.
"It's been a long journey, it's good to finally get here," she said. "I've played a lot of soccer the last two months, and the standard hasn't dropped. I'm glad to be here."