SEC leading scorer Mick Imgram
Oct. 25, 2009
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - On a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the Tennessee Lady Vol soccer team (8-7-3, 4-4-2 SEC) clinched its 12th consecutive berth in the annual Southeastern Conference Tournament, as goals by freshman midfielder Amy Harrison and senior midfielder/forward Mick Imgram as well as the seventh career shutout from junior netminder Molly Baird guided the Big Orange past Alabama (6-9-1, 2-6-1 SEC), 2-0.
For Imgram, the score marked her league-leading 12th of the 2009 season and granted her 25 goals in her career. That total ties the Clifton, Va., native with former Lady Vol All-American and current assistant coach Keeley Dowling (2001-04) and former Lady Vol Kendyl Michner (1997-99) for seventh all-time in goals in the UT career record book. Harrison's tally was the second of her brief career wearing the Orange & White, while sophomore midfielder Chelsea Hatcher and junior midfielder Julie Edwards were credited with their first assists of 2009.
The two squads each managed 13 shots in the contest, while Tennessee drove seven on frame to six for the Crimson Tide. Baird corralled six saves during the match in registering her seventh blanking and fourth shutout in SEC play.
"We got a victory today when we really needed one," Lady Vol head coach Angela Kelly said. "Credit Alabama, especially for their effort in the first half, as they played very well. That's a credit to their coaching staff and team, and their goalkeeper had a great game. Ali Hall played an important role for us, stepping in at center back, controlling things and helping settle us. Amy Harrison's goal was important by setting the tone for our squad early in the contest. We created a lot of very dangerous scoring opportunities today. We just have to continue to work on our discipline, focus and attack in front of the goal to put more of those chances away."
The two squads opened the contest by battling for control in the midfield as neither team managed a shot during the opening five minutes. UT did manage a cross into the box in the third minute of play, but it failed to find a UT offensive player.
Crimson Tide forward Grace Lawson managed to locate some space in the middle of the field at the 5:50 mark. She advanced quickly towards the 18-yard box, but junior defender Melissa Speros impressively dispossessed her of the ball and moved it away from any danger.
Alabama nearly broke in front at 8:39 as midfielder Victoria Frederick received a perfect through ball up the left wing. With the Tide player racing unmarked toward the goal, Baird raced off her line and slid into a hard shot from Frederick, making a crucial save as Tennessee eventually took possession of the ball.
The early chances for the Crimson Tide seemed to wake up the Lady Vols as the UT offense responded quickly for a 1-0 lead. Following a `Bama header off a UT throw in, Harrison pounced on a quick-tapped pass by sophomore midfielder Chelsea Hatcher near the far post. The Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, native blasted it in the back of the net from about six yards out at 10:15 for the second goal of her brief career.
Baird registered another huge save at the 12:14 mark, stopping Alabama's Lawson on a point-blank shot from the middle by diving fully-extended to her left and knocking it away as UT's defense managed to clear.
A foul deep in UT's attacking third nearly resulted in another Lady Vol score during the 15th minute. With the ball just outside the top of the 18, Imgram hammered a shot toward frame that was tipped out front, traveling just wide for a goal kick.
Another quick Alabama counter-attack resulted in a shot from midfielder Rosaly Petriello that was stopped by Baird at 15:21 then a blast traveled well high of frame by forward Kelsey King at 17:15.
Tennessee had its very own breakaway opportunity in the 26th minute as sophomore midfielder Chelsea Hatcher got clear of the UA backline. Her pressure forced Crimson Tide netminder Justine Bernier to rush off her line to make a tip save on a shot that went wide right of goal as UT earned a corner.
The back-and-forth action continued as `Bama saw King miss just high on a drive from the right wing at 26:24. That was followed approximately two minutes later by a shot from the right side by UA's Brooke Johnson that traveled to the left of a diving Baird and about five feet wide of the left post.
Sophomore Emily Dowd recorded Tennessee's fourth shot of the match at 37:18 after beating her defender and advancing into the middle of the pitch. Nearing the top of the 18, the Gainesville, Fla., native unleashed a shot that traveled right into Bernier's arms in the center of the goal mouth.
On the other end Alabama sub Tia King forced Baird's fifth save of the match on a drive from just up the left wing in the 39th minute as the Tide continued to counter quickly off UT offensive chances.
With time beginning to run short in the opening stanza, a pass from deep out on the left side by Barrett found Dowd moving into space in the middle of the pitch. Her eventual shot in the 43rd minute was blocked out front by UA's backline, but traveled over the end line for the fourth Tennessee corner of the contest.
Neither offense threatened over the remainder of the half as the Big Orange took a one-goal lead into the locker room break.
Tennessee opened the second stanza by posting almost constant pressure in the attacking third, but couldn't get a good look at goal in the opening seven minutes.
Junior midfielder Julie Edwards changed that at 53:04, forcing a save by UA's Bernier. Hatcher followed in the 58th minute with a shot wide of the net as UT tallied the first three shots by either team in the second half.
A solid cross by Edwards from the left side into the middle was just a little too far in front of a sliding Barrett about nine yards out. On the play a ricochet bounced right to junior midfielder Tanya Emerson, and she fired quickly on frame at 58:25 as Bernier was forced to make her fourth save.
Following a shot by sophomore forward Ashley Owens that traveled wide during the 65th minute, the Crimson Tide finally managed its initial pressure in UT's end of the second half during the 67th minute on a cross from the right wing. Tennessee freshman defender Ali Hall intercepted the crossing feed and cleared the ball away from the Lady Vol end.
With 18:55 remaining in the contest, `Bama drew its first corner of the second 45 minutes. The cross into the penalty area was knocked away by a leaping Baird in the middle of the crowd, and the rebound shot by UA's Kelly King drifted well off the mark wide right.
The almost constant assault in the second frame finally paid off for the Big Orange at 75:26 with a clinching score. Edwards took possession of the ball out deep on the right side, and managed a great through pass just ahead of Imgram in space. The SEC's leading scorer didn't miss on the run when given a chance from about 12 yards, driving a low roller from the right side to the left of Bernier, tucking it just inside the far post for a 2-0 advantage. The goal marked the league-leading 12th of the season for the Clifton, Va., product and the 25th of Imgram's career.
Edwards had a shot blocked at 80:27 and then Dowd forced yet another save by UA's Bernier at 84:40 as Tennessee's second half dominance continued. Over the second 45 minutes, UT out-shot `Bama, 8-3.
Alabama had one late chance to get on the scoreboard but Baird made a save on a shot by Petriello in the 87th minute, preserving the Lady Vol netminder's seventh career shutout.
Tennessee wraps up the 2009 regular season on Friday, Oct. 30th, by traveling to Athens, Ga., to battle the home-standing nationally-ranked Georgia Bulldogs at 7 p.m. ET.