Sept. 7, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In their first matches since moving back into the top 10, the 10th-ranked Lady Vols take on UNC Greensboro and Middle Tennessee in the 2006 First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic this weekend at the Regal Soccer Stadium.
Friday's schedule starts with the Mercer Bears taking on Middle Tennessee at 5:30 p.m. The Orange and White then square off against UNC Greensboro at 8 p.m. On Sunday, the Bears and Spartans will clash starting at 12:30 p.m., with the in-state showdown between Tennessee and Middle Tennessee wrapping up the weekend action at 3 p.m.
The Big Orange will try for their second title in the seventh weekend tournament held at UT. Last year, Texas A&M swept to the crown with wins over Washington and Stanford. Other previous champions include North Carolina (1998, 2004), George Mason (1999) and Xavier (2000).
Senior All-American midfielder Ali Christoph (Columbus, Ohio) was the hero last weekend against No. 6 Virginia, ending the second overtime match in UT history with a penalty kick golden goal after freshman forward Devon Swaim (Levittown, Pa.) was fouled in the penalty box. For Christoph, it was her ninth career match-winner, tying her for third all-time at Tennessee. However, it was Christoph's first golden goal in 16 career overtime matches.
UNC Greensboro comes to Knoxville with an 0-4 record against tough competition, falling to two currently ranked teams and playing three Atlantic Coast Conference squads thus far. The Spartans went 11-7-1 last year and return seven starters from the team that finished third in the Southern Conference.
Middle Tennessee makes the two-and-a-half hour trip to Rocky Top with a perfect 4-0 mark, out-scoring their opponents, 14-4. The Sun Belt Conference's third-place finisher a year ago, the Blue Raiders bring back eight starters from that 13-5-2 team. Starting goalkeeper Courtney Fortner has a 0.88 goals against average so far, while Holly Grogan has tallied four goals and 11 points on the young season.
The Lady Vols have never faced the Spartans before, though UT does hold a perfect 6-0 mark against other Southern Conference teams. Tennessee holds a 2-0 advantage in the season series against in-state rival Middle Tennessee, though this will be the first meeting between the programs since 1997.
Gametracker live stats will be available for all four matches via the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic link on the women's soccer page at utladyvols.com.