Oct. 25, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With the Georgia soccer team playing for its SEC Tournament life, No. 23 Tennessee needed to have a fierce effort and big-time play from its veteran core on Thursday night. Alexis Owens scored the match-winner in the 84th minute off passes from fellow seniors Amy Harrison and Kylie Bono and the Lady Vols edged the Bulldogs, 3-2, while giving the Rocky Top faithful a Senior Night for the ages.
"This is a little bit of a microcosm of our season, dealing with some bumps," Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky said. "We had a tough tie against Vanderbilt. We had an upsetting loss at home against Arkansas. We had an upsetting loss at home against Kentucky. But every time we bounced back. Here we are, outshooting Georgia 21-5 and in a moment, all of a sudden, we're fighting for our lives with 10 minutes left. Then it was senior-to-senior-to-senior. Amy with a ball over the top into Bono, Bono served it into Alexis and the Alexis with a big-time finish. Nobody is happier for that group than we are."
Tennessee (14-4-2, 9-3-1 SEC) had just watched a 2-1 advantage turn into a knotted match when Georgia (7-11-2, 3-8-2 SEC) scored in the 80th minute off a header from Susannah Dennis with assists from Madeline Barker and Nicole Locandro.
The UT senior leadership would not let this match go into overtime. In the 84th minute, Harrison played a ball into the box for Bono. Bono graced the back line and sent a cross over to Owens for the score up the middle and off her knee from three years out.
The Lady Vols and Bulldogs were knotted at 1-1 at the half. UT's Hannah Wilkinson scored in the 17th minute off a beautiful ball played forward by Bono and a crisp cross on the back line from Owens. Georgia's Madeline Barker evened the match at 1-1 in the 40th minute when Bella Hartley found her for a tap in from the left side.
Tennessee took a 2-1 lead just over three minutes out of halftime when CC Cobb sent a pass in to Caroline Brown from the right side in the 49th minute. Brown sent the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards out.
Owens finished the game with one goal and one assist. Bono had two assists and Harrison had one assist.
Wilkinson finished the game with one score (her team-high eighth on the year), an incredible 10 shots and four shots on goal. Brown had one goal and Cobb had one assist.
Senior Ali Hall played the full match on the back line, giving her 15 complete matches on the year. Senior goalkeeper RB Wyatt made her first start in goal and played the entire first half, allowing one goal. Sophomore goalkeeper Julie Eckel (14-4-2) entered in the second half and earned the win after recording one save and one goal allowed.
The senior quintet of Bono, Hall, Harrison, Owens and Wyatt was honored before the match with a Senior Night ceremony at 6:40 p.m. The seniors improved their record to 47-29-6 and 26-12-4 at Regal Soccer Stadium in front of the largest home crowd of the year at 1,884.
Tennessee outshot Georgia, 23-7, and owned a 6-3 edge on corner kicks. The match was very physical as five combined yellow cards were issued (two to Georgia, three to Tennessee).
Georgia has now been eliminated from SEC Tournament contention. Tennessee is currently seeded third for the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., and it will face sixth-seeded Auburn on Oct. 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The match will be televised on the SEC Digital Network.
NOTES: With two assists on the night, Kylie Bono bumped her career total to 16 and cracked the top 10 in UT's all-time assist list, tying Allison Campbell (1998-99) and Genna Gorman (2004-05) for 10th all-time ... Bono is one assist behind junior Caroline Brown (17) and Laura Lauter Smith (1997-2000) for eighth place ... RB Wyatt's 45 minutes played in the first half set a new career high.