Oct. 29, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
ATHENS, Ga. - On Saturday afternoon, in the resumption of Friday night's delayed regular-season finale, the #20 Tennessee Lady Vol soccer team (14-5-0, 7-4-0 Southeastern Conference) fought off any potential distraction, getting goals from sophomore forward Caroline Brown and senior forward Emily Dowd to roll past Georgia (12-5-2, 6-3-2 SEC), 2-0.
With its victory, Tennessee secured the third-seed in next week's SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., and will open its stay in the league's showcase event on Wed., Nov. 2, in a 3:30 p.m. ET contest against Kentucky.
Brown and Dowd each recorded their team-leading 11th goals of the campaign as the Big Orange continues to be the only squad in the conference with two players that each possess 10+ goals and 25+ points. On Dowd's 64th minute goal, junior midfielder Kylie Bono and senior forward Chelsea Hatcher were credited with their sixth and fifth assists of the year, respectively.
By equaling her single-match career high with nine saves, freshman goalkeeper Julie Eckel picked up her eighth solo shutout while helping the UT defense to its 10th overall blanking of 2011.
During the contest the Lady Vols out-shot the Bulldogs by a 14-12 total, even though UGA managed a 9-6 advantage in shots on frame. The Big Orange recorded a commanding 7-2 lead on corner kicks and continues to top the league in that category.
"I'm just really pleased with where our team is right now and with how they are playing," Lady Vol Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "I think we're playing very attractive soccer right now, and I am very happy with our effort this weekend in fighting off any distraction with the unforeseen circumstance with the lights and the overnight delay."
Friday Night Pre-Delay
Georgia managed the first shot of the contest at 4:51 off a free kick following a Lady Vol foul deep in UT defensive territory. The SEC's leading scorer, UGA forward Alexa Newfield, fired a drive from 28 yards out in the middle that beat the Lady Vol wall but drifted wide left of frame.
Big Orange sophomore defender Tori Bailey recorded Tennessee's initial shot in the seventh minute off a corner kick. Senior midfielder Emily Shore played the ball short to Bailey at the right top corner of the 18-yard box. The Fenton, Mich, native fired but her lob landed on the top netting of the goal.
The Lady Vols kept up the pressure over the next few minutes with the best chances coming at 14:17 and 16:35. On the first opportunity, Dowd played a great through ball up the left wing to Bono. In a little space the Yorba Linda, Calif., native fired quickly from about nine yards, but it ventured wide left of the post. Just 2:18 later, a ball played into the middle of the 18 was headed on frame by junior midfielder Amy Harrison, forcing a save from UGA keeper Ashley Baker.
Between those two Big Orange scoring chances, Georgia posted one of its own during the 16th minute as Newfield battled her way inside the top of the box. Just as she managed a slow-rolling shot, Newfield and her UT marker collided, but the referee saw no issue with the play as UT freshman goalkeeper Julie Eckel made her initial stop of the contest.
At the 20:26 mark of the opening frame, two faulty banks of lights on the Lady Vol defensive end at the UGA Soccer Stadium forced a 45-minute delay as the two coaching staffs discussed the situation with the officials before deciding to postpone the contest until Saturday.
Some 16 hours later at approximately noon ET, right off a Georgia goal kick that re-started the match, Tennessee's Dowd ended up with a ball right at her feet inside the 18 on the left side of frame. The Gainesville, Fla., native fired quickly in a one-vs.-one situation from 12 yards out, but Baker made a diving stop just 11 seconds after the contest's resumption.
The Big Orange had the best of Saturday's early going offensively, holding the majority of possession in UGA's defensive end. Back-to-back Lady Vol corner kicks in the 25th and 26th minutes, however, didn't result in a UT shot as the Bulldogs managed to clear both crosses out of danger.
A quick long ball from Georgia in the 36th minute nearly paid dividends for the `Dawgs as the pass ended up in possession of Carli Shultis on the left side. She fired quickly from 12 yards out, but Eckel was stationed right where she needed to be at the left post to make the save.
Baker was forced into action at 36:49 as UT's fifth corner of the contest resulted in a strong header in a crowd from junior defender Ali Hall that was stopped.
The Lady Vol offense was at it again at 39:44 and 40:30 as Hatcher fired wide, and then Dowd lifted a shot high of frame from about six yards out on the left wing.
Georgia managed its initial corner of the match at 44:01, but Tennessee's defense managed to keep the Bulldogs from registering a shot.
That proved the last major action in an opening stanza that took 17 hours and 28 minutes to complete with the delay included.
Early on in the second frame it proved to be the `Dawgs that registered the initial scoring chance as a ball lobbed into the 18 landed at the feet of Torri Allen. Closely marked by a UT defender, the UGA player lifted a shot well high of frame for a harmless goal kick.
Right back the other way, Brown had a golden chance with a Georgia player down inside the 18 with an injury. The Hershey, Pa., native broke in clear toward the left post and fired, but hit the outside netting.
The scoreless dead-lock was finally broken off a bad clearance by the Bulldogs in the 50th minute. Tennessee crossed the ball from the right wing to the left side of the 18 that ended up in UGA's possession. A clearance miscue resulted in a pass right to Brown as the UT forward pivoted quickly and fired from 12 yards, beating Baker for a 1-0 advantage.
The Red & Black came right back after the UT score, as Jamie Pollock and Carli Shultis launched shots at 51:38 and 52:42, respectively that were corralled by Eckel.
The Big Orange lead grew to 2-0 at 63:04 with some impressive work off a corner kick. Hatcher delivered the cross from the right wing into a crowd inside the middle of the 18. Bono managed a header that popped up before landing at the feet of Dowd in some space on the left side. She turned quickly and blasted home her 11th score of the campaign from eight yards out.
Tennessee's defense played remarkably down the stretch, limiting Georgia without a single shot in the contest over a span extending from 61:15 through 85:16.
After a UT foul Newfield took a long free kick from well out on the left wing. Meghan Gibbons raced in marked and finally registered a UGA shot (85:16), but Eckel saved it wide of the right post. Off a follow-up corner, the Big Orange "D" managed to clear the ball out of any potential danger.
Gibbons fired again from outside the top of the 18 at 86:47, but Eckel was again up to the task. The Cordova, Tenn., native dove to her left to make the stop and covered up a short rebound to virtually seal the clean sheet.
Now that the regular season is complete, it's on to the postseason and more specifically the SEC Tournament slated for Nov. 2-6 in Orange Beach, Ala. #20 Tennessee will open its stay with a quarterfinal match-up against sixth-seeded Kentucky on Wed., Nov. 2, at 3:30 p.m. ET.