Sept. 28, 2008
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Despite matching shots with No. 16 Florida, the University of Tennessee women's soccer team fell to the Gators, 5-1, on Sunday afternoon. The defending SEC Champions recorded their first win over the Lady Vols since 2004, as the Orange and White drops to 3-7-0 overall and 0-2-0 in the SEC.
Senior midfielder Ameera Abdullah put Florida on the board first in the 19th minute. After freshman midfielder Tahnai Annis brought the ball up on the left flank, she took a shot which was deflected by Lady Vol keeper Jaimel Johnson back to an oncoming Abdullah who chested the ball into the back of the net from six yards.
Freshman forward Emily Dowd nearly scored the equalizer just two minutes later, breaking away from her defender and drawing Florida keeper Meghan Berlingo out of the net before taking a shot which was stopped on the goal line by Gator defender Lauren Hyde.
Abdullah stung the Lady Vols again, putting the Gators up 2-0 on an unassisted goal in the 29th minute. The senior beat her defender, bringing the ball into the box and sliding a shot past Johnson on the ground for her second goal of the match.
Junior midfielder Angela Napolitano gave Florida the 3-0 lead, poking in a loose ball from inside five yards following a scramble in the box by the Tennessee defense. The goal marked the first time this season that the Lady Vols have allowed more than two goals in a match.
The Lady Vols looked ready to score early, getting several quality chances in the opening minutes. Junior midfielder Mick Imgram nearly put one away just two minutes in, striking a free kick from 23 yards off the far post. The Orange and White took advantage of a Florida miscue minutes later, when senior forward Kylee Rossi intercepted a back pass in the Gator defense. Rossi dribbled into the box where she had a shot blocked by a UF defender.
The first half saw both teams trade shots, however, the Lady Vols' scoring woes continued, while Florida found the back of the net three times. Both teams took eight shots in the first frame.
The lone bright spot for Tennessee came at the feet of Rossi. After Hyde pushed Dowd down from behind in the penalty box in the 64th minute, Rossi got the Lady Vols on the scoreboard, converting on the penalty kick on the ground to beat Berlingo. The goal marked Rossi's fifth of the season and puts her just four points away from breaking Tennessee's all-time scoring record.
Five minutes later, the Gators regained the three-goal lead after forward Lindsay Thompson headed a ball past Johnson for Florida's fourth goal of the match. The freshman received a ball in the air from junior midfielder Ashlee Elliott on the left side where she connected with her head and found the back of the net.
With eight minutes remaining, Florida sealed the victory with a goal from freshman forward Laura Ray. After senior forward Megan Kerns brought the ball into the box, she dished to Ray in the center of the box where she beat Johnson on the ground to her right.
Tennessee finished the match with 17 shots, forcing Berlingo to make three saves. Florida countered with 16 shots, including eight on goal. The win for the Gators marks the first against UT during the regular season since October 2002.
The Lady Vols will now look to bounce back during a season-long four-match homestand over the next two weeks. The Orange and White has defeated 11 of its last 12 opponents at home and has only allowed one goal there in the past nine matches.
Tennessee returns to action next weekend, hosting No. 24 LSU on Friday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. before welcoming Arkansas on Sunday, Oct. 5 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.