Oct. 3, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Behind senior forward Kylee Rossi's seventh goal of the season, the University of Tennessee women's soccer team posted a 2-1 victory over No. 15 LSU on Friday night. The Lady Vols earned their first win of the Southeastern Conference season and notched their 12th win in the past 13 matches at Regal Stadium.
"Tonight was a wonderful win," UT Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "It's so great for the team to get in a rhythm and gain success out of the opportunities they create. I could go down the list of the great performances this evening. It just feels good because it felt familiar. You felt the excitement in the stadium and most importantly, you saw the smiles on the players' faces. They just had fun and that's really the key."
After being shut out through the first 45 minutes, the Lady Vols came out of the half fast and furious, taking five shots in the first 15 minutes of the second frame. The first 20 minutes of the second half saw Tennessee play some of its best soccer, creating numerous scoring chances and converting on two of those five shots.
Junior midfielder Mick Imgram was the first to find the back of the net for Tennessee, just four minutes into the second half. After a foul by the Tigers, Imgram took the free kick from 25 yards out on the right side of the field, blasting a rocket of a shot past LSU freshman keeper Mo Isom into the lower left corner. The score marked the first of the season for Imgram and gave UT the 1-0 lead.
With the one goal advantage, the Lady Vols looked energized and ready to score again. Tennessee did just that, 28 seconds later, as Rossi brought the ball down from the end line and lofted a shot past Isom from 15 yards on the right side of the box. The score gave the Orange and White a two-goal lead and made Rossi the new all-time leader in points at Tennessee.
The Pennington, N.J., native, who now boasts 88 career points on 37 goals and 15 assists, passed former Lady Vol Rhian Wilkinson to set the new record. Rossi is now Tennessee's all-time leader in five career categories - points (88), goals (37), shots (301), game winners (14) and golden goals (4). The two quick goals also broke an LSU record, becoming the two fastest goals against the Tigers in program history.
"It's definitely an honor to break the record," Rossi said. "I want to thank my teammates and my coaches for getting me to that level. Although it's a great honor, it doesn't mean anything right now because we've got to keep going and keep winning."
Trailing, 2-0, with 40 minutes remaining, LSU turned on the heat, testing the Lady Vol defense and senior keeper Jaimel Johnson. In the 65th minute, LSU came close to scoring as junior forward Rachel Yepez drew Johnson out, forcing her to make a diving save 12 yards from the goal.
After applying continuous pressure over the next five minutes, the Tigers benefited from a foul by Tennessee in the 70th minute. Junior midfielder Malorie Rutledge took the free kick from just outside the left side of the box near the endline and found freshman forward Kellie Murphy in the box, where she headed it past Johnson for the goal.
"[Head Coach] Brian Lee has done a great job at LSU," Kelly said. "They move the ball very well and they have great individuals both on the ball and going forward. They are a handful and they are going to be very successful this season."
With the lead cut to one, Tennessee worked to seal its defensive third and allowed just two more LSU shots in the match. The new-look Lady Vol backline saw junior Sarah Jackyra and sophomore Grace Cuenin starting in the central defense, while sophomore Melissa Speros and redshirt freshman Molly Delk started at outside back.
The scheme worked well, with Delk and Speros helping the offense by bringing the ball up on the flanks, and Cuenin and Jackyra holding the Tigers' leading scorers, Yepez and junior midfielder Michelle Makasini, without a goal. The backline also got key relief from freshman Hannah Hut who contributed 46 minutes off the bench, while the start marked the first of Delk's collegiate career.
Both keepers had their work cut out for them in the match, with each making five saves. The Lady Vols just out-shot LSU 13-12, putting seven strikes on frame, while Johnson faced six shots on goal from the Tigers.
"I thought Mo Isom did a great job," Kelly said. "She's definitely got a personality of her own in the back."
The win marked Tennessee's second of the season over a ranked team and its eighth victory in the last nine home matches against top-25 opponents. The Orange and White is now 3-1-0 at Regal Stadium in 2008, and became the first team to score two goals in a match against LSU this season.
"We had two great goals and the defense played awesome tonight," Rossi said. "This could definitely be a turning point. We're just going to keep trucking and nobody's quitting."
The Lady Vols will now look ahead to Sunday's match against Arkansas. The Razorbacks played to a 1-1 draw with Georgia on Friday night before falling to the Bulldogs, 2-1, just one minute into the second overtime.
Arkansas is 9-2-0 overall and 2-1-0 in SEC play. The last time the two teams met, they played to a 1-1 draw in Fayetteville however the Razorbacks have never recorded a victory in Knoxville. Sunday's match is set to kick off at 1 p.m. at Regal Stadium. Live video and statistics will be available at utladyvols.com.