Aug. 27, 2009
BY AUSTIN BAIRD
With the departure of Kylee Rossi, who graduated this spring as the Lady Vols all-time leading goal scorer, the 2009 season will provide many of UT's soccer players with the opportunity to assume a more important role in the offense.
"Kylee was obviously great offensively and a great player, but we have the talent to live up to Tennessee standards this year," head coach Angela Kelly said.
Despite suffering an injury during the spring season and enduring a summer of rehabilitation, one of the players Coach Kelly has high hopes for is junior midfielder Julie Edwards.
"[Julie] is coming back quicker than we expected, which is awesome," Coach Kelly said. "She is going to have an integral role when she does come back, you can just tell."
"She's exactly what you want in a midfielder," Kelly boasted of Edwards. "She's feisty, she has a great work ethic and does a great job at connecting the backs and the forwards."
There is good reason to be optimistic heading into 2009's campaign, both for Edwards and for the team as a whole--after a tough regular season, last year ended with a late season surge which included a Southeastern Conference Championship and an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
En route to the Vols' SEC title, Edwards played every minute of the tournament and enjoyed one of the highlights of her career as a Volunteer: a game-winning goal in the final against the University of Georgia.
After midfielder Tanya Emerson played a ball from the right flank into the box, Edwards one-timed the cross past UGA keeper Michelle Betos for the only goal Tennessee needed to reach the NCAA tournament.
"Tanya was able to steal the ball and slip a nice pass in and I put it away," Edwards remembers. "We really just tried to pressure the ball and it created a scoring opportunity for me."
Even with Edwards sidelined, the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic this weekend provides the Lady Vols with an early opportunity to carry momentum from last year and to better shape their lineup before conference play begins in September.
"We definitely lost a lot of good players but we also have good freshman coming in and other players are ready to step up. We'll start to show that this weekend. Hopefully I'll get back on the field soon...but I'm sure Mick [Imgram] and [three rest of the team will] step up a lot and do great."
"The Lady Vol Classic will be a good challenge," Kelly added, "and should let us know where we're at and what we need to work on."
With Tennessee standards, which Coach Kelly described as "winning a national championship...every year and going undefeated [in the SEC] and out of conference," early momentum will obviously be important.
Friday at 8:00 p.m. the Lady Vols will face the Arizona State Sun Devils at Regal Soccer Stadium in the first of two matchups for the Lady Vol Classic. They follow up on Sunday with another game at Regal Soccer Stadium against Pepperdine University at 3:00 p.m.