Oct. 31, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Thanks to two goals from junior forward Carrie Patterson, Georgia ended Tennessee's regular season with a 2-0 defeat on Friday night at Regal Soccer Stadium. The Lady Vols bid farewell to five seniors before the match but failed to find the back of the net, despite out-shooting the Bulldogs 12-7 on the night.
"The credit goes to Georgia," UT Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "We had breakdowns in the back on two occasions and they capitalized on that. We need to be better organized."
UGA got the scoring started right away, putting away the eventual game winner just 21 seconds into the match. Patterson found herself with the ball in the box following the kickoff and brought the ball down near the endline, just one yard out before sliding her shot on the ground inside the far post. The goal was Patterson's first of two on the night and gave Georgia an early 1-0 lead.
From there, the two midfields battled it out in the first half, with each attempting to claim possession of the ball. Georgia put another two shots on goal in the half, forcing UT senior keeper Jaimel Johnson to make two saves, including one backwards diving stop on a shot from sophomore Marah Falle in the 28th minute. The Orange and White notched two shots in the first half, but could not put either on frame.
"We need better focus in the defensive third," Kelly said. "We also need better focus in our distribution from the mid- to the attacking-third of the field."
Tennessee came out of the half looking to score, as it took two shots in the first five minutes of the second period. Freshman forward Chelsea Hatcher put the Lady Vols first shot on frame in the 47th minute, forcing UGA keeper Michelle Betos to make the save. Hatcher played nearly the full time, taking two shots and continuing her stellar play in the midfield.
"I've been working a lot on my composure on the ball," Hatcher said. "At the beginning of the season it wasn't really where it needed to be, but I've definitely been working on that."
The Bulldogs, however, had a nose for the goal, as senior forward Megan Tomlinson came up the left flank and played a cross into the box for a streaking Patterson. The Atlanta, Ga., native one-timed the pass, putting it into the back of the net for a two-goal lead.
"Georgia scored two goals that they shouldn't have scored," Hatcher said. "We just had a couple of breakdowns. This team definitely has the ability to come back. We proved that we can last Sunday against Auburn."
The Orange and White stepped things up in the second half, putting six of its 10 shots on frame. Senior midfielder Alissa VonderHaar led the attack in the final 45 minutes, taking four shots. VonderHaar tried to make the most of her Senior Night, forcing Betos to stop three of her shots in the match. The Lady Vols, however, could not find the back of the net as they were shut out for the sixth time this season.
"We had a lot of numbers forward at times," Kelly said. "We just need to fine-tune our decision making in the attacking third. We could have gotten in behind the defense numerous times, but we needed to make better decisions."
The night was a bittersweet one for Tennessee's five seniors who were honored before the match. Sarah Van Sickle, Leslie Vineyard, Kylee Rossi, Johnson and VonderHaar each made the start on Friday. The group has guided UT to 50 wins overall and an .833 winning percentage at home over the last four years, setting numerous records and helping the program reach new heights. Next week, the seniors will look to lead the squad to its first SEC Tournament championship since 2005.
"I don't think the reality of Senior Night has really sunken in yet," VonderHaar said. "It just hasn't hit me yet that this is my last game on this field. We've thought about it and it's happened but I don't think that it has actually hit me."
The Lady Vols close out the regular season with an 8-10-1 record overall and a 5-5-1 mark in conference play to finish fourth in the Eastern Division. The loss, combined with wins by Florida, LSU and Auburn, will give Tennessee the No. 6 seed for next week's SEC Tournament.
"We're headed in the right direction," Hatcher said. "It's good we have the SEC Tournament coming up because we'll get a chance to replay some of the teams that took games from us earlier in the season."
UT now starts a new season at the SEC Tournament, looking to make a run and earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The pursuit will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 5 against a familiar foe in No. 3-seeded Auburn. The Tigers topped the Orange and White, 2-1, in double overtime on Oct. 26. Tennessee and Auburn will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex in Orange Beach, Ala.
|SEC Tournament Seeding and First Round Schedule|
|5. South Carolina#||5-4-2||17.0|
|7. Ole Miss#||5-5-1||16.0|
|12. Mississippi State^||0-11-0||0.0|
|# Clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament|
|^ Eliminated from postseason play|
|& LSU defeated Georgia and Auburn|
|% Auburn defeated Georgia|
|@ Tennessee defeated Ole Miss|
|First Round schedule|
|Wed. Nov. 5, Orange Beach, Ala.|
|#7 Ole Miss vs. #2 LSU||12 p.m. CT|
|#6 Tennessee vs. #3 Auburn||2:30 p.m. CT|
|#8 Alabama vs. #1 Florida||5 p.m. CT|
|#5 South Carolina vs. #4 Georgia||7:30 p.m. CT|