June 3, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee soccer team has announced its 2014 schedule, which features eight exciting regular-season home matches at Regal Soccer Stadium. UT will open its 2014 regular season on Aug. 22 against Milwaukee in Madison, Wis.
The 2014 schedule features seven matches against teams who played in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
"We think we have put together another good schedule - with high-level games from both BCS and non-BCS conferences," Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky said. "After a challenging weekend in Madison against UWM and Wisconsin, we'll have our home-opener against a BYU team that was in the Elite Eight two seasons ago. WKU obviously caused us fits last fall, and Tulsa was a Top-75 RPI team this past fall - so those teams will both be a handful. Then we travel to Charlottesville to take on UVA, who is coming off of a record-breaking season, before finishing our non-conference schedule against Peter Albright's Richmond group."
"Conference play kicks off with a bang as we head to Texas A&M for a nationally-televised game on the SEC Network. And that begins what will be another season of week-to-week battles in the SEC."
Tennessee finished 2013 play with a record of 8-7-4, marking UT's fourth-consecutive and 14th-overall winning season. The team notched three wins over ranked opponents, including triumphs over eventual conference champions Texas A&M (SEC champ) and UCF (Conference USA champ). Caroline Brown, who graduated last month, and rising senior defender Allie Sirna earned All-SEC honors. Brown was also selected for NSCAA All-South Region accolades.
UT returns several veteran stars in 2014, including a strong senior class that features elite defender Sirna, 2012 NSCAA All-American Hannah Wilkinson and three-year starting goalkeeper Julie Eckel. Experienced veterans like Brittney Wade, Cheyenne Spade, Susan Ferguson, Gabby Santorio, Michele Christy and Amy Neal all played big minutes in 2013.
This season, Tennessee welcomes 14 talented newcomers in a 2014 signing class that Top Drawer Soccer ranked No. 11 in the nation. Tennessee had four IMG Academy 150 signings in No. 37 Carlyn Baldwin (Oakton, Va.), No. 45 Anna Bialczak (Lutherville, Md.), No. 122 Meaghan Mulligan (Freehold, N.J.) and No. 141 Alexis Smith (San Jose, Calif.). UT tied for sixth nationally with four 2014 IMG Academy 150 signees. The Big Orange also signed a pair of 2013 IMG Academy 150 players in transfers No. 3 Anna McClung (Gate City, Va.) and No. 78 Ariel Kupritz (Maryville, Tenn.). Both McClung and Kupritz were among UT's four spring enrollees. Talented incoming freshmen Christine Creighton, Gracie DeGooyer, Meghan Flynn, Colleen Gawkins, Josie Jennings, Ashley Jolly, Olivia Knox and Amanda McClanahan round out Tennessee's impressive 14-player 2014 class. Baldwin is currently on the USA U-20 roster and Jennings was the Tennessee Gatorade Girls Fall Soccer Player of the Year.
Fans can get their first look at the 2014 squad when Tennessee plays Louisville in an exhibition match on Aug. 13 at Regal Soccer Stadium. The Cardinals present a strong early challenge for UT, having gone 12-5-2 last season. The Cards were a 2013 NCAA Tournament team that lost in a first-round shootout to Illinois State.
Tennessee opens its 2014 season in Madison, Wis., where the Volunteers will take on Milwaukee on Aug. 22 and Wisconsin on Aug. 24. The Panthers were a 2013 Horizon League Tournament champions and fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Michigan. Wisconsin went 10-7-2 in 2013 and featured the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Rose Lavelle.
UT faces BYU in its home opener at Regal Soccer Stadium on Aug. 29. BYU went 15-5-1 in 2013 and clinched a share of the WCC Championship. The Cougars defeated Weber State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Colorado in the second round.
On Sept. 5, Tennessee heads to Bowling Green, Ky., to play Western Kentucky for the third consecutive year. UT took a 4-1 win in 2012, the last time the teams squared off in Bowling Green, but the teams played to a scoreless tie last year at Regal Soccer Stadium. Western Kentucky went 10-6-5 in 2013 and fell to South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship.
Tennessee hosts Tulsa on Sept. 7, marking the first-ever meeting between the teams. Tulsa went 11-6-4 last season, which concluded in the Conference USA tournament quarterfinals with a 2-2 tie to Colorado College.
UT concludes the non-conference portion of its regular season schedule with a pair of challenging matches in Charlottesville, Va. The Volunteer face Virginia on Sept. 12 and Richmond on Sept. 14. Virginia was a 2013 Women's College Cup team and finished the year 24-1-1. The Cavaliers return 15 veterans from last year's squad, which went a perfect 19-0-0 during the regular season and ranked No. 1 for most of the year. UVA head coach Steve Swanson was the NSCAA National Coach of the year and rising senior midfielder Morgan Brian was the 2013 MAC Hermann Trophy winner as well as Soccer America and Top Drawer Soccer's Player of the year. Richmond went 6-9-3 in 2013 and returns A-10 All-Rookie defender Hunter Rooney. UT holds a 2-1 edge in three all-time matches against Richmond.
SEC play begins on Sept. 18 for Tennessee when the Volunteers head to College Station, Texas, to play Texas A&M. The match will be televised on the SEC Network. Tennessee is 3-0 all-time against the Aggies, taking 1-0 victories from 2011-13, each time against a ranked Texas A&M squad. The Aggies went 18-5-2 last season, claiming a share of the 2013 SEC regular season title and winning the 2013 SEC Tournament Championship. Texas A&M fell in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament to North Carolina.
Tennessee's first SEC home match will be on Sept. 26 against Alabama. UT holds a 10-4-1 all-time edge in its series against the Crimson Tide, but Alabama took a 4-2 win in last year's meeting in Tuscaloosa. Alabama went 10-12 last season and returns NSCAA All-Region selection Pia Rijsdijk, who led the team in goals, points and match-winners. UT hosts Mississippi State two days later on Sept. 28. Tennessee and MSU did not play last each other last season, but UT holds a 13-2 edge in the all-time series and has won its last six matches against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State went 3-15 in 2013.
UT's starts October with its first SEC road weekend of the year, playing at Georgia on Oct. 3 and at Auburn on Oct. 5. Tennessee last played Georgia in 2012, taking a thrilling 3-2 win on Senior Night thanks to an incredible 84th-minute goal by Alexis Owens. UT owns a 13-7 all-time record against the Bulldogs and has won the last three times the teams have played. Georgia went 13-7-1 in 2013 and return standout Marion Crowder, who scored a team-high 11 goals and was named to Top Drawer Soccer's Freshmen Best XI second team. Tennessee heads to Auburn, Ala., two days later to play the Tigers. Last season, UT and Auburn tied 1-1 in Knoxville thanks to Katie Lenz's incredible 89th-minute equalizer. Tennessee owns an 11-5-2 all-time record against the Tigers. Auburn went 8-9-4 last year and fell to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. Auburn returns a pair of All-SEC players in Kala Faulkner and Casie Ramsier.
Tennessee returns to Knoxville for a three-match homestand, stretching from Oct. 10-19. On Oct. 10, UT hosts Arkansas, a team that went 15-8-1 last year and advanced all the way to the NCAA Tournament third round, falling to Duke. Tennessee is 11-3-1 all-time against Arkansas, but the Razorbacks have won the last two matches between the teams, including a 2-1 decision last year in Fayetteville. UT hosts LSU on Oct. 17 and has an 11-4-3 all-time record against the Tigers. Tennessee and LSU enjoyed a thrilling contest last year when the teams tied 1-1 in Baton Rouge. Brown scored the equalizer in the 64th minute, Eckel had eight spectacular saves and Christy headed a ball away from between the posts in the 110th minute. LSU went 9-9-2 in 2013 and then-freshmen Emma Fletcher, Summer Clarke and Megan Lee earned Top Drawer Soccer Freshman Best XI honors. The Volunteers close out the homestand on Oct. 19 against Vanderbilt. Tennessee is 9-9-2 all-time against Vandy, including a 3-0 win in its 2013 season finale in Nashville. The Commodores went 4-12-3 last season and return First Team All-SEC selection and top scorer Cheyna Williams (16 goals in 2013).
Tennessee renews one of the SEC's greatest rivalries when the Volunteers head to Gainesville, Fla., for an Oct. 24 contest against Florida. The Gators hold a 14-8-2 edge in the all-time series and took last year's match in Knoxville, 3-0. UF went 18-5-1 in 2013 and won a share of the SEC regular-season title. The Gators fell in the NCAA Tournament second round to Duke. Florida returns its leading scorer, 2013 Top Drawer Soccer National Rookie of the Year, Soccer America National Freshman of the Year and SEC Offensive Player of the Year Savannah Jordan (22 goals).
UT's final regular-season home match is against Missouri on Oct. 26 and will be televised on ESPNU. UT is 1-0-1 all-time against Mizzou, including a 1-1 tie in 2013 in Columbia, Mo. Missouri went 8-9-3 last season and the Tigers return NSCAA All-South Region pick and leading scorer Kaysie Clark (six goals).
The Volunteers close the 2014 regular season on the road, facing Ole Miss on Oct. 30 in Oxford, Miss. Tennessee is 12-3-2 all-time against the Rebels and upset a ranked UM squad, 3-0, last season in Knoxville. UT is 7-0-2 in its last nine matches against Ole Miss. The Rebels went 16-6-2 in 2013 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Florida State. Ole Miss graduated its two top scorers from 2013 in Rafaelle Souza (22 goals) and Mandy McCalla (15 goals).
The 2014 SEC Soccer Tournament will be held from Nov. 3-9 in Orange Beach, Ala. The SEC Network will televise the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals and ESPNU will carry the title match. The NCAA Tournament starts in mid-November with First Round action from Nov. 14-16. The 2014 NCAA Women's College Cup will be held Dec. 5 and Dec. 7 at FAU Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.