Aug. 20, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee women's soccer team earned a top-20 spot in both the Top Drawer Soccer and SoccerTimes.com preseason polls released on Wednesday. The Lady Vols came in at No. 16 according to SoccerTimes.com, while Top Drawer Soccer placed UT at No. 17. The Orange and White are listed in the top-20 in each of the three national polls released so far after checking in at No. 13 in the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA)/adidas ranking.
Tennessee returns eight starters from 2007, including a senior class featuring forward Kylee Rossi and goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson, both listed on the 2008 MAC Hermann Trophy Preseason Watch List. Rossi was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year in 2007, while Johnson became the program's third NSCAA All-American. The Orange and White also welcome seven true freshmen and four redshirt freshmen to the squad.
Johnson set a new UT standard for saves in a season last year, making 111 in her 22 starts. The Dayton, Ohio, native recorded 10 solo shutouts while being named to the All-SEC First Team. In the NCAA Tournament Sweet16 loss to Portland, Johnson recorded a career-high 12 saves after facing 28 Pilots' shots.
Rossi enters the season with 75 career points, just 14 away from eclipsing former Lady Vol Rhian Wilkinson's career record. The Pennington, N.J., native continued her development into one of the top scorers in program history, setting new career records for goals, shots, game winners and golden goals in 2007. Rossi became the first player in program history to lead the team in scoring for three consecutive years.
During a record-breaking 2007 season, the Orange and White posted a 15-5-2 overall record after getting off to its best start in program history at 7-1-1. Tennessee achieved its highest ever ranking in the NSCAA/adidas poll at No. 6 on Oct. 2 following back-to-back wins over No. 12 South Carolina and No. 15 Florida to open Southeastern Conference play.
The Lady Vols were in the SEC Eastern Division and overall title races until the final match of the regular season and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. UT played host to Furman, topping the Lady Paladins, 2-0, before downing Clemson, 1-0, in overtime in the second round.
Tennessee is joined by 13th-ranked Florida and 19th-ranked Georgia in the SoccerTimes.com poll, while Top Drawer Soccer listed the Gators at No. 18 and the Bulldogs in the No. 24 spot. The Orange and White are set to face three teams ranked in both polls during its non-conference schedule in No. 3 North Carolina, No. 12/14 West Virginia and No. 24/20 Illinois.
UT will kick off the 2008 season on Friday at Chattanooga. The Lady Vols and Lady Mocs will kick off at 7 p.m. at the North River Soccer Complex in Chattanooga, Tenn.