Freshman Goalkeeper Julie Eckel
Oct. 20, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A 14th minute goal from Alabama forward Pia Rijsdijk proved enough as the Crimson Tide (8-7-2, 3-5-1 Southeastern Conference) posted a 1-0 upset victory over the #19 Tennessee Lady Vol soccer team (12-5, 5-4 SEC) on a cold Thursday night at the UA Soccer Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
UA out-shot the Lady Vols by a 20-18 count, including 10-6 in shots on goal, while the Big Orange owned the corner kick advantage at 10-7.
Tennessee freshman goalkeeper Julie Eckel tied a single-game career high by making nine saves against the Crimson Tide. UT senior forward Chelsea Hatcher led the offense with seven shots, two on frame, while sophomore forward Caroline Brown registered four shots.
"The effort has to be better," Lady Vol Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "That is the summation of tonight's match, and our situation going forward."
The first chance of the match went Alabama's way as the Crimson Tide forced a corner 4:40 into the match. Off the cross, the ball ended up on the right wing in the possession of Rijsdijk. She fired a shot from 14 yards out that was no trouble for Eckel as the Cordova, Tenn., native made her initial save.
Back the other way Tennessee's Brown registered the first attempt of the contest for the Lady Vols at 6:10, but her attempt from just outside the top of the 18-yard box traveled wide left.
Eckel came up with a huge stop for the Big Orange in the 10th minute. UA midfielder Theresa Diederich launched a shot from out in the middle towards the right post, but Eckel dove completely parallel to the ground to tip the ball outside the upright and over the end line.
The Crimson Tide managed to nab an early lead just 13:57 into the match as the result of a failed clearance by UT. Off a ricochet the ball bounced out in the middle to Rijsdijk who drilled a one-touch shot from the top of the 18 just inside the right post for a 1-0 lead.
With possession in Alabama's end of the pitch, Big Orange forward Hatcher got taken down by her marker. With the duo fighting over possession, the sphere bounced out to Lady Vol senior forward Emily Dowd. The Gainesville, Fla., native fired a shot from 14 yards out to force the third save of the night by Alabama keeper Justine Bernier at 20:58.
Hatcher absolutely blasted a drive on frame from just outside the 18 during the 32nd minute. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native hit the shot so hard that the sound reverberated off Bernier's keeper gloves as she just managed to fight the shot over the crossbar.
After two more Eckel saves in the 39th and 40th minutes, Tennessee managed to out-shoot UA over the last five minutes of the opening half by a 4-1 count. Unfortunately, drives from junior forward Alexis Owens (40:27), junior midfielder Amy Harrison (41:05) and Dowd (42:51) drifted wide and a shot from Hatcher went high (42:01).
One last chance for the Crimson Tide off the foot of Lindsey Sellers with 30 seconds left in the frame failed to trouble Eckel in goal as she made an easy save to send the teams to the break with UA up 1-0.
Out of the locker room, Tennessee managed a quick counter-attack from Hatcher and Dowd that forced a corner just 56 seconds into the second stanza. Senior midfielder Emily Shore crossed the ball from the left corner into the middle and UT got back-to-back shots from Brown and Hatcher, but both were blocked by the `Bama defense. Two more subsequent Lady Vol corners at 46:53 and 49:02 failed to produce a shot.
Back the other way, `Bama forward Kendall Khanna launched a deep drive that just ventured just over the cross bar at 51:13 before she had another shot blocked 47 seconds later.
The search for the equalizer continued for the Big Orange with three successive corners from the 56th through the 59th minutes of play. Brown managed a pair of shots, one from near the left post that was saved over the end line by Bernier and another at 58:56 that was popped up and over the cross bar, landing on the top netting.
Alabama nearly grabbed a 2-0 lead at 64:28 as Khanna beat her UT marker and raced in from the right side in a one-on-one situation versus the keeper. Eckel raced quickly off her line and dove to deflect Khanna's shot up in the air. The ball landed near the goal line as Harrison was perfectly placed to head the orb away from the six-yard box. A follow-up by Tide midfielder Josie Rix traveled just inches over the cross bar for a goal kick.
On another dangerous shot by Rijsdijk from the right wing in the 74th minute, Eckel again demonstrated her ability, diving fully extended to her right to tip the ball outside the left upright for her career-high-tying ninth save.
A big collision inside the 18 during the 82th minute saw Tennessee's Brown, UA's keeper Bernier and a `Bama defender collide with no call. With the ball bouncing just free of the scrum, Dowd quickly fired left-footed, but her shot traveled wide left of the post.
That proved the last shot for the Big Orange in the match as the Crimson Tide kept the ball in the midfield for the majority of the remaining eight minutes to seal their upset win.
The #14 Tennessee soccer team finishes out its home schedule by celebrating "Lady Vol Senior Day" on Sun. Oct. 23, against Auburn at 1 p.m. ET. The UT senior class will be honored in pre-match ceremonies beginning at approximately 12:40 p.m., while any fan who wears pink will be admitted free as part of "Goal Pink."