Sophomore forward Emily Dowd
Oct. 11, 2009
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With 1,007 Orange-clad fans in attendance at the Regal Soccer Stadium and a national television audience watching live on ESPNU, UT sophomore forward Emily Dowd drew a crucial penalty in the 18-yard box late in the second half and senior Mick Imgram converted the ensuing penalty kick at 81:40 to help Tennessee (7-5-2, 3-2-1 Southeastern Conference) rally to a 1-1 (2OT) tie against #24-ranked Ole Miss (9-3-1, 3-1-1 SEC) on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
For Imgram the goal marked her SEC-leading ninth tally of the 2009 campaign and solidified the Clifton, Va., native's hold on 10th all-time in Lady Vol history with 22 career scores.
Tennessee out-shot the Rebels by an 18-14 count, and junior Molly Baird registered five saves between the pipes over 110 minutes of action. The referees were busy all day during the exceedingly physical match-up with the two squads combining for 38 fouls, five yellow cards and the UT penalty kick.
"There were a lot of moral victories today," Lady Vol head coach Angela Kelly said. "In the history of this program, we expect to get wins, and we expect overtimes to be ours. With all of our youth, we competed well today and our group gained an even better understanding of how fitness plays a huge role. Heading into overtime, we created a lot of good scoring chances and out-shot Ole Miss during both the first and second halves. Now we must work to improve our sophistication and savvy in the attacking third, but those types of runs come with experience. With such a young team at Tennessee, the future is especially bright. I'm really excited about that."
With an offense as potent as the one the Rebels brought to Knoxville, it didn't take long for the SEC's top-scoring team to make its mark in the attacking third as Ole Miss nabbed a 1-0 lead at 11:23. Forward Hannah Weatherly worked the ball up the left wing, crossing eventually to the middle of the 18-yard box where midfielder Danielle Johnson slid a right-footed shot past a diving Baird and into the goal for a quick one-score advantage.
Faced with an early deficit, the Lady Vols began their search for a scoreboard equalizer. Imgram had a shot blocked out front during the 14th minute, Barrett later forced a Ronaldi save at 19:48 and Imgram launched a ball wide of frame in the 23rd minute.
At 25:30, the Rebels managed some pressure on the UT net as forward Taylor Cunningham drilled a shot on goal that Baird corralled.
Prolonged play in the midfield seemed the pattern of the remainder of the first half as the only good scoring chances came on one of Lady Vol sophomore Chelsea Hatcher's team-high six total shots at 30:20 and a high blast from UM's Johnson at 41:48. UT managed seven shots to five for the Rebels over the opening 45 minutes, but Ole Miss had the all-important lead on the scoreboard.
During the 60th minute things got a little scary for the Lady Vol defense as a long pass off a free kick from just on the Ole Miss side of midfield by Ronaldi cleared all but the last two UT defenders. The Big Orange backline duo accidentally collided with each other as the ball bounced between the two and onto the foot of Abbie Curran clear on the left wing. She laced a quick shot, but right at Baird as the Raleigh, N.C., native made another crucial save.
Tennessee turned up the offensive heat in the 64th minute, forcing back-to-back corners in the attacking third. At 68:46, a Lady Vol free kick was drilled into the penalty area by Imgram. The ball ricocheted between numerous players out front, and the only shot UT could manage was a blocked one from Barrett at about 12 yards out. Just 10 seconds later, Hatcher forced a Ronaldi save by driving a header to the right post off another Big Orange free kick.
Hatcher was at it again at the 73:14 mark with a shot from deep on the left wing that seemed to surprise the Ole Miss netminder. Ronaldi made the save, but bobbled the ball dangerously before containing it. Another effort by Hatcher from just out front at 75:39 missed the right post by about a foot as UT still battled hard to locate the elusive equalizer.
Finally in the 82nd minute, Dowd got a step on Ole Miss defender Brittany King and was brought down from behind in the 18-yard box as the head referee signaled for a penalty kick. Imgram calmly stepped to the spot and tucked the ball inside the right post to draw the two teams even at 1-1.
The Rebels had the better of the early chances in the initial "sudden victory" overtime. Baird stopped a Johnson shot at 93:05, and then a Cunningham drive just missed the top right corner before landing on the top of the twine for a goal kick.
With time running short in the first OT, Hatcher launched a shot from about 25 yards out on the right wing that forced another Ronaldi stop.
Baird may very well have saved the day in the second overtime for Tennessee by getting her fingertips on a shot from Ole Miss forward Kelsey Breathitt. The ball was deflected just enough by the UT netminder to rattle off the crossbar and over the goal.
The best chance for either team during the remainder of the second 10 minutes looked to have been on a header by Lady Vol freshman midfielder Amy Harrison. On a long free kick from the right wing by Imgram, Harrison leapt clear of the crowd and drilled a shot towards goal that drifted just high and out of play.
Tennessee returns to television next Friday night on Fox Sports South (FSS) and SUN Sports in a 7 p.m. ET match-up against nationally-ranked Florida at the Regal Soccer Stadium. Live stats via Gametracker will also be available through utladyvols.com.