Oct. 2, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee women's soccer team kicks off its longest homestand of the season this weekend, playing host to No. 15 LSU and Arkansas. The Lady Vols enter the four-game home stretch with a 3-7-0 record overall and an 0-2-0 mark following the first weekend of SEC play.
Tennessee returns to the friendly confines of Regal Soccer Stadium on Friday after a two-game SEC-opening road trip that saw it drop back-to-back conference matches for the first time since 1999. The Lady Vols' scoring woes continued as they managed just two goals on the weekend, falling to South Carolina, 2-1, and then-No. 16 Florida, 5-1. The loss to the Gators marked the first during the regular season in the last six meetings between the teams.
Senior forward Kylee Rossi provided both goals for UT last weekend, bringing her season total to six, which leads the SEC. Rossi is now just two points away from breaking the Lady Vols' career points record, set by Rhian Wilkinson in 2003.
This weekend, UT will look to turn things around against the top two offenses in the SEC so far this year. Neither LSU nor Arkansas has ever recorded a victory against Tennessee in Knoxville and the Lady Vols have allowed just one goal in the last nine matches at Regal Stadium. Going into Friday's match against the Tigers, Tennessee is 7-1 in its last eight matches against top-25 teams at home.
LSU enters the weekend with a 7-1-0 record, but is coming off its first loss of the season at Ole Miss on Sept. 28. The Tigers have out-scored opponents 25-4 this season, while posting four shutouts. LSU is the returning SEC West Champion and will be looking for its second consecutive victory over Tennessee on Friday.
Arkansas is off to its best start in program history at 9-1-0 and is one of just two teams that recorded a 2-0-0 opening week in conference play. The Razorbacks come into the weekend with eight shutouts in 10 matches and are second to LSU in the SEC with 24 goals on the year. Arkansas opens the weekend at Georgia on Friday night.
The Lady Vols and Tigers will kick off the second week of SEC play on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Regal Stadium. Sunday, UT will host Arkansas at 1 p.m. Live statistics for both matches and live video and commentary for Sunday's game will be available at utladyvols.com.
Watch For Falling Records
With her two goals last weekend, senior forward Kylee Rossi increased her career points total to 87, putting her just one point away from tying former Lady Vol and Canadian Olympic Team member Rhian Wilkinson's record of 88. The Pennington, N.J., native needs just two points to become the most prolific scorer in program history. Rossi already holds Tennessee's career goals (36), game winners (14), shots (298) and golden goals (4) marks. The senior has passed several Lady Vol greats, incuding All-Americans Ali Christoph and Keeley Dowling, on her way to the top of the career points list. Her six goals this year lead the team and SEC.
Tennessee dropped its opening matches in Southeastern Conference play at South Carolina and No. 16 Florida last week. The Lady Vols fell to the Gamecocks in the regular season for the first time in program history on Sept. 26, coming up on the short side of a 2-1 decision. On Sept. 28, the Orange and White dropped its first match to the Gators since 2004, 5-1.
The Lady Vols, however, can take heart in the fact that two losses to open conference play do not always lead to an unsuccessful SEC season. In 2007, Florida opened the league slate with losses to Georgia and Tennessee before winning its final nine matches in conference and taking home the SEC East and regular season titles. The Gators finished with a 9-2-0 record and capped the season with their eighth conference tournament championship and third SEC Triple Crown.
The Orange and White will play six of the final nine matches of the regular season at home, where it is 11-1 in the last 12 matches. The Lady Vols will take on Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn on the road in October, a month that has seen them go 15-4-2 when playing away from home over the past five years.
Several of the Lady Vols' 11 rookies are already making an impact on the field for Tennessee this season. True freshmen Hannah Hut, Emily Dowd, Chelsea Hatcher and Lara Langworthy have all earned substantial minutes this year, both as starters and substitutes. Both Dowd and Hut have earned three starts apiece, with Hut playing the full 90 on the backline against both Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara and Dowd tied for second on the squad with three points on the year. Hatcher made the first start of her career at UCSB and came off the bench against Western Carolina to play 57 minutes and assist Kylee Rossi on the game winner. Langworthy has also provided quality minutes off the bench, seeing time in the midfield in nine of 10 matches this season. If the trend continues, the UT rookies look set to make the most of their four years in the Orange and White.
Taming the Tigers
LSU enters Friday's meeting with a 7-1-0 record overall and a 1-1-0 mark in conference play. The Tigers opened the SEC season with a split in the Magnolia State, topping Mississippi State, 4-1, before falling to Ole Miss, 1-0, last weekend.
The 15th-ranked Tigers are led by a trio of juniors in forward Rachel Yepez and midfielders Malorie Rutledge and Michelle Makasini. The three have combined for nearly half of LSU's goals and 41 points this year. Yepez and Makasini lead the conference with five goals on the season, while Rutledge is averaging over one assist per match to top the SEC in that category. The Tigers have spread the ball around, boasting10 players who have notched a goal this season and 12 who have recorded at least one point. The LSU offense has outscored opponents 25-4 this season and has been shut out just once so far.
Defensively, freshman keeper Mo Isom has shined in goal for LSU. The Marietta, Ga., native has played every minute between the pipes for the Tigers, notching four shutouts and seven wins while holding opponents to just 0.50 goals per game. The rookie holds an .840 save percentage and made a name for herself in the second match of the year, scoring a goal off a free kick in a 4-1 win over then-No.25 BYU. Isom has earned the SEC Defensive Player and Freshman of the Week awards in the same week twice already this season.
Though UT holds the 9-1 advantage in the all-time series, the Tigers notched their first win in program history over the Lady Vols last season. LSU topped the Orange and White, 3-0, in Baton Rouge on Oct. 5, 2007. Tennessee, however, has out-scored the Tigers 25-10 in the series and has never lost at home to LSU.
The Razorbacks come into the weekend with a 9-1-0 record and a 2-0-0 SEC record as one of just two teams to open the conference season with two wins last weekend. Arkansas notched a 2-0 victory over Ole Miss before downing Mississippi State, 1-0, to kick off the league slate.
Six Razorbacks have posted multiple goals this year as the Arkansas offense has out-scored opponents 24-4 so far. Sophomore midfielder Kelly O'Connor and senior forward Lindsay Patterson have paced the Razorbacks with five goals apiece, while freshman forward Kailey Anders and sophomore forward Rachel Carlson have dished out three assists each to tie for the team lead. O'Connor and Patterson have combined for 23 points, while the team sits second to LSU in the SEC in goals, assists and points.
Sophomore keeper Britni Williams has seen the majority of Arkansas' minutes in goal this season, recording seven shutouts in 10 matches to lead the conference. Williams enters the weekend with a 0.41 goals against average and 28 saves. The Razorbacks have allowed just four goals this season, shutting out eight opponents.
The Lady Vols and Arkansas will meet for the 10th time in program history on Sunday. UT is 7-1-1 all-time against the Razorbacks, however the teams played to a 1-1 draw in the last meeting on Oct. 7, 2007 in Fayetteville. Tennessee's only loss to Arkansas came in 1996.
The Razorbacks are set to take on Georgia on Friday night in Athens, where they posted a win in 2006. Arkansas is 5-0-0 on the road this season and off to its best start in program history.