Oct. 9, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee women's soccer team closes out its longest homestand of the season this weekend, playing host to Kentucky and Vanderbilt. The Lady Vols enter the weekend with a 5-7-0 record overall and a 2-2-0 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
UT has won four straight matches at home and has allowed just two goals at Regal Stadium this year. Last weekend, Tennessee broke out of a funk that saw it drop the first two matches of the conference season, downing then-No. 15 LSU and Arkansas. The Lady Vols gave up just one goal on the weekend and saw senior forward Kylee Rossi become the program's new career points record holder.
Tennessee is coming off its first back-to-back wins of the season and will be looking to build on that success against its two opponents from the SEC East. The Lady Vols enter the weekend in third place in the division, and boast the top goal scorer both overall and in conference play in Rossi. The Pennington, N.J., native has posted eight goals, four of which came in SEC matches.
UT has posted a combined record of 15-14-2 all-time versus Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but took both of the matches against the two teams last year. In 2007, the Orange and White posted a 4-1-0 mark against Eastern Division teams during the regular season. The Lady Vols also boast a 34-6-2 record in the month of October over the last five years.
Kentucky arrives in Knoxville with a 3-7-2 overall record and is coming off a weekend in which it suffered back-to-back losses to South Carolina and Florida. The Wildcats not only dropped a heartbreaker in double overtime to the Gators on Oct. 5, but also lost their third-leading scorer in senior midfielder Kristin Kover, who suffered a broken foot in the loss. UK will be looking to return to the form that saw it post consecutive shutouts to open the conference season.
In-state rival Vanderbilt has gone 7-4-1 so far this year, dropping three of its four matches during league play. This weekend will mark the first away from home for the Commodores since the beginning of the SEC slate. VU has played well on the road this year, compiling a 3-1-1 record during non-conference play. Vanderbilt holds the all-time advantage in the series with UT, but has dropped two straight. The Commodores travel to Georgia to face the Bulldogs on Friday night.
The Lady Vols and Wildcats are set to get underway at Regal Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, while Sunday's action with Vanderbilt will kick off at 2 p.m. Live video, audio and statistics will be available for both matches online at utladyvols.com.
Kylee Rossi continued to solidify her place as the most prolific scorer in Tennessee women's soccer history last week. The senior forward helped lead the Orange and White to back-to-back victories last week, while setting a new record for career points at UT. Rossi totaled five points in wins over then-No. 15 LSU and Arkansas, scoring two goals and dishing out one assist. In Friday's 2-1 victory over the Tigers, the Pennington, N.J., native scored her 37th career goal and 14th career game winner to move past former Lady Vol Rhian Wilkinson to the top of Tennessee's career points list. Friday's game winner pushed Rossi to 89 career points, surpassing Wilkinson's record of 88 set in 2003. In a 2-0 win over Arkansas on Sunday, Tennessee's leading scorer added to her weekend résumé. First, the senior dished the ball to sophomore forward Devon Swaim who scored from close range to put the Orange and White on the board in the 49th minute with the eventual game winner. Then, 13 minutes later, Rossi changed her role, this time receiving a ball in the box from junior midfielder Mick Imgram in the box to score the insurance goal for UT. With a goal and an assist on Sunday, Rossi posted a season-high of three points in the match while continuing to add to her new record. Her eight goals this year rank first in the Southeastern Conference, while her 17 points put her in a tie for the top spot in that category. Following the weekend performance, Rossi is now Tennessee's career record holder in points (92), goals (38), shots (304), game winners (14) and golden goals (4). The two wins marked the first back-to-back victories of the season for the Lady Vols who have now won 13 of their last 14 matches at home. UT has allowed just two goals in the last 11 matches at home and is 4-1-0 at Regal Stadium in 2008. On the heels of her record-breaking weekend performance on the pitch Rossi was named the Lady Vol Athlete of the Week and earned a spot on the Soccer Buzz National Elite Team of the Week.
Pick of the Litter
Assistant Coach Keeley Dowling was selected as the first pick of the second round in the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) draft on Oct. 6. The former Lady Vol All-American was chosen as the eighth overall pick by the New Jersey/New York franchise, Sky Blue FC. The inaugural season of the WPS, which represents the highest level of women's professional soccer in the United States, is scheduled to begin in April 2009. The 2005 Tennessee graduate last played professionally in Örebro, Sweden from 2006-07, after spending a season with the Charlotte Lady Eagles of the W-League. During her time with KIF Örebro, Dowling played against former U.S. National Team member Tiffeny Milbrett and 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year, Marta, of Brazil. Last April, Dowling signed a contract with the U.S. Women's National Team. The contract guarantees the Carmel, Ind., native an opportunity to compete for a roster spot whenever the team plays. Dowling won gold medals at the 2004 Nordic Cup with the Under-21 National Team and with the Under-19 National Team at the 2002 World Championships. During her playing days at Tennessee, Dowling was the Lady Vols' first National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American, earning three selections including two to the first team in 2003 and 2004. The defender was a two-time Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and helped UT to its first NCAA Tournament appearance, as well as its initial NCAA Sweet 16 berth, SEC Tournament Championship and SEC Triple Crown. Dowling joins a Sky Blue FC roster that includes fellow draft selections goalkeeper Cori Alexander, midfielder Kacey White and defender Jenny Anderson-Hammond, as well as 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalists Natasha Kai, Christie Rampone and Heather O'Reilly. Three players on the roster were members of NCAA National Championship teams during their college careers, while 10 have earned at least one cap with their home country's full national team.
Rebounding Wins Championships
Though they dropped both matches in the opening weekend of SEC play, the Lady Vols can take heart in the fact that two losses to open the conference slate 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 four of the final seven matches of the regular season at home, where it is 12-1 in the last 13 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.
Word on the Wildcats
Kentucky comes in to Friday night's match with a 3-7-2 overall record and has gone 1-2-1 so far during conference play. The Wildcats will hit the road for the first time since Sept. 16, after opening the SEC season with four straight matches in Lexington. Sophomore forward Laura Novikoff has accounted for 11 of the Wildcats' 41 points on the year and is third in the SEC with five goals this year. Joining Novikoff at the top of the stat sheet is sophomore forward Giuelana Lopez who has added three goals of her own this year. Junior midfielder Julie Hull and senior midfielder Kristin Kover are tied for the team lead with three assists apiece, however Kover will miss this weekend's matches as she suffered a broken foot against Florida last week. Keeper Sydney Hiance has played every minute in goal this season for UK. The sophomore enters the weekend with a 1.51 goals against average and four shutouts on the year. In the opening weekend of conference play, Hiance notched back-to-back blank sheets against Auburn and Alabama to earn the SEC Defensive Player of the Week Award on Sept. 29. Hiance has gotten help from senior defender Tara Herold who has played every minute at left back for UK this season and has started every match of her career. Historically, the series between the Lady Vols and Wildcats has been relatively even, with UK claiming seven victories in 16 total matches. UT has won seven of the last 10 meetings but Kentucky is 2-1-0 since 2005. The last time the two teams met, the Orange and White posted a 1-0 overtime victory in Lexington. UK is 3-3-0 all-time when playing at Tennessee, earning a 1-0 win the last time it traveled to Knoxville on Oct. 13, 2006. Kentucky Head Coach Warren Lipka, the dean of SEC soccer, is in his 17th season at the helm for the Wildcats. He ranks among the top 50 winningest active coaches in Division I and comes into the weekend with a 183-141-32 overall record. He has led the Wildcats to 14 consecutive SEC Tournament appearances.
The Commodores enter the third week of conference play with a 7-4-1 overall record and a 1-3-0 mark in the SEC. Vanderbilt is sitting in last place in the Eastern Division, but is coming off its first win during league play.
VU hosted No. 13 Florida and No. 24 South Carolina last weekend, falling to the Gators, 4-3, in overtime before topping the Gamecocks, 2-1. The Commodores currently lead the SEC in shots, both overall and during league play, averaging nearly 24 strikes per game.
The Commodore offense is led by sophomore Molly Kinsella's 14 points on five goals and four assists. The forward has one game winner on the year and leads the conference in shots with 63 through 12 matches. Senior midfielder Amy Wilcox and redshirt sophomore forward Nicole Lukens have also made a name for themselves in the VU lineup, combining for 16 points. Wilcox is second in assists with three, while she, Lukens and freshman forward Candace West have each added three goals apiece.
Sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Bachtel has played the majority of minutes between the pipes for Vanderbilt this season. Bachtel comes into the week with a 1.47 goals against average and three shutouts. The Dublin, Ohio, native has faced 61 shots on goal, making 43 saves so far this year.
Vanderbilt leads the all-time series with Tennessee, compiling a 7-6-2 record against the Lady Vols. In the last 10 meetings, UT holds the slight advantage with five wins, while VU has won three and the teams have tied twice. Last year, the Orange and White recorded a 3-1 victory in Nashville. In their last trip to Knoxville, the Commodores dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime.
Now in her eighth season as the head coach at Vanderbilt, Ronnie Coveleskie has put together a record of 66-54-25 with the Commodores. Since taking over at VU in 2001, Coveleskie is 2-5-2 against the Lady Vols.
Vanderbilt travels to Georgia to take on the Bulldogs on Friday night before taking on Tennessee.