Feb. 3, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee soccer team released its 2014 spring exhibition schedule on Monday.
UT will play six exhibition contests, including four home matches, from March 1 to April 12 as the Big Orange prepares for the 2014 season. Admission for all spring matches at Regal Stadium is open to the public and free.
Tennessee went 8-7-4 in 2013 and returns several of its biggest stars in rising senior center back Allie Sirna (Second Team All-SEC), rising senior forward Hannah Wilkinson and rising senior goalkeeper Julie Eckel. UT's back line has been one of its biggest strengths the last few years and this spring fans can get a preview of a talented and experienced defense, led by Sirna, Eckel, Brittney Wade, Gabby Santorio and Megan Erskine, that looks to continue to dominate in 2014. New Zealand National Team star Wilkinson (five goals, five assists) is UT's leading returning scorer. In these six exhibition matches, fans will get a first glimpse at the offense surrounding Wilkinson as Tennessee looks to fill the shoes of offensive standouts and graduating seniors Tori Bailey, Caroline Brown, CC Cobb and Katie Lenz.
On March 1, Tennessee will host both Western Carolina and Lipscomb. UT will play WCU at 11:30 a.m. ET and Lipscomb at 1 p.m. ET. Western Carolina went 10-9-1 last season and returns its top three offensive weapons from 2013 in Kelly Pannell, Caitlyn Bradham and Markie Studnicky - a trio that combined for 18 goals and 11 assists.Lipscomb went 6-8-5 in 2013 had one of the top freshman scorers in the country in Ellen Lundy, who paced the team with 14 goals and earned all-Atlantic Sun Conference honors. Lipscomb and Western Carolina will play each other at 2:30 p.m. ET.
The following Saturday, March 8, UT will play at Clemson at 1 p.m. ET. The Tigers went 7-8-4 in 2013 and bring back several of their young stars, including standout goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who posted a 0.94 GA, 66 saves and a .786 save percentage as a rookie.
Tennessee will host SEC foe Kentucky on March 29 at noon. Kentucky was one of the top teams in the conference last year, going 14-7-1 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament second round where the Wildcats would fall to eventual national champion UCLA. This late-March contest should be a big test for UT as Kentucky returns its top three scorers in Arin Gilliland (12 goals, 10 assists), Stuart Pope (10 goals, seven assists) and Zoe Swift (nine goals, five assists).
Tennessee heads up to Louisville on April 5 to face the Cardinals at 1 p.m. ET. Louisville went 12-5-2 in 2013 and fell to Illinois State in a shootout in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals featured an impressive offense last year, averaging 2.53 goals per match, but graduate their top two offensive players in Charlyn Corral (13 goals, 11 assists) and Christine Exeter (nine goals, 11 assists).
UT will conclude spring competition on April 12, hosting 2013 College Cup team Virginia Tech at 12 p.m. ET. The Hokies went 19-5-3 last fall and made it to the national semifinals where they lost to eventual national runner-up Florida State. The potent Virginia Tech offense returns most of its offensive core in freshman sensation Murielle Tiernan (11 goals, five assists), Ashley Meier (nine goals, two assists) and Katie Yensen (seven goals, five assists) and should present and exciting challenge for Tennessee's vaunted defense led by Sirna and Eckel.