Nov. 14, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Charlotte's two goals spelled an early exit for the University of Tennessee women's soccer team in the NCAA Tournament, as the 49ers took a 2-0 victory on Friday night at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. The loss ends a spectacular run that saw the Lady Vols capture the SEC's automatic bid into the tournament with its fourth conference tournament title in program history.
"When it comes down to tournament time it takes a lot of emotion and our girls pulled off a great victory at the SEC Tournament last weekend," UT Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "It's almost humanly impossible to get back to 100 percent when you've given that much with how many peaks and valleys we've had this season."
Charlotte came out aggressive in the first half, putting five of its eight shots on goal. The 49ers won three corners in the first six minutes of the match, nearly scoring on the second when sophomore midfielder Sam Huecker's kick curled into the box but was cleared off the line by UT sophomore defender Grace Cuenin.
Charlotte and Tennessee each had a few quality chances to score in the half, with several brief outbursts of activity in the box coming from both squads. In the 14th minute, Lady Vol sophomore midfielder Julie Edwards put the ball in the back of the net on a rebound from freshman midfielder Chelsea Hatcher but was called offsides before the shot.
Hatcher had another chance to score minutes later when a corner kick from Edwards found her in the center of the box. Hatcher ripped a shot but Charlotte keeper Lauren Brown made a last-second save with her right hand to keep the Lady Vols out of the net.
The 49ers responded with a flurry of their own with just four minutes remaining in the half, as freshman Jonna Handra blasted a shot at Johnson who made a diving save but lost the ball. Senior Nikki Labuda Czaplicki found the rebound and took a shot that required a sliding save from Johnson.
Charlotte struck with the eventual game winner in the 51st minute, as freshman Oni Bernard chased down a long pass before playing a ball into the slot for forward Nikki Dumencich whose shot slipped through the hands of Johnson. The goal marked the second of the year for Dumencich.
The 49ers found the back of the net again in the 69th minute. Czaplicki benefited from a deflection near the top of the box where she found herself free. The senior then blasted a shot into the upper left corner to give Charlotte a 2-0 lead.
With just three minutes remaining, the Lady Vols had one more chance on a corner kick. The ball came out to Cuenin, who put a shot off the crossbar from 35 yards before the rebound was cleared.
"To be honest, I think this has been a long season for our young team and emotionally they gave everything that they had," Kelly said. "Charlotte had more gas in the tank emotionally."
Charlotte out-shot the Lady Vols 13-8 in the loss and forced Johnson to make five saves. The Orange and White finished the match with two shots on goal, with Hatcher, sophomore midfielder Devon Swaim and junior midfielder Mick Imgram each notching two strikes to lead the team.
"I have to give full credit to Charlotte," Kelly said. "Danielle Mayeaux in the central midfield had a tremendous game. She won everything in the air and made it very difficult for us to beat that pressure in the midfield and keep possession up top."
The match marked the final time Tennessee's five seniors will don the Orange and White, as keeper Jaimel Johnson, midfielders Alissa VonderHaar and Leslie Vineyard and forwards Kylee Rossi and Sarah Van Sickle capped their careers at UT. All in all, the senior class captured two SEC Tournament titles, made two trips to the Sweet 16 and won the conference's Triple Crown in 2005.
UT ends the season with an overall record of 10-11-2, while Charlotte advances to a second round matchup with No. 1-seeded North Carolina on Sunday. Kelly completes her ninth season at the helm with a record of 127-59-16 all-time as a head coach.