Nov. 4, 2008
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - The University of Tennessee women's soccer team kicks off play in the 2008 SEC Tournament on Wednesday against Auburn. The sixth-seeded Lady Vols and third-seeded Tigers will meet for the second time in two weeks at 2:30 p.m. CT at Orange Beach Soccer Complex.
The Orange and White is coming off a regular season-ending loss to Georgia, 2-0, on Oct. 31, and is looking for its first victory since Oct. 19 at Mississippi State. UT finished the regular season with an 8-10-1 record overall and a 5-5-1 mark in SEC play, finishing fourth in the East.
The Lady Vols enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 6 seed and have compiled a record of 10-5-2 during conference tournament play under Head Coach Angela Kelly. Tennessee has collected three tournament titles in four appearances in the championship match, with its last coming in 2005.
The third-seeded Tigers have won five straight matches, including a 2-1 overtime victory over the Lady Vols on Oct. 26. Auburn comes into the tournament with an 11-7-2 overall record and boasts newly annointed SEC Freshman of the Year Katy Frierson, in its starting lineup.
UT and Auburn have met just twice in SEC Tournament history, with the Orange and White taking both contests. The last time the two squads met in the tournament was in the first round in 2006, when Tennessee downed the Tigers, 5-2. The only other game saw the teams meet in the 2005 final, which UT won, 1-0, to take its second SEC Triple Crown.
The Orange and White will be looking to redeem themselves in Orange Beach, as it was bounced from the tournament in the first round last year. UT is 2-2-1 in its last five matches at the SEC Tournament.
The winner of tomorrow's match will take on the winner of the game between No. 2-seeded LSU and No. 7 Ole Miss on Friday at 5 p.m. CT. Wednesday's other first round pairings include No. 1 Florida versus No. 8 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia versus No. 5 South Carolina. The winners of those matches will meet on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT. The winner of the SEC Tournament title earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Lady Vols begin their pursuit of their first SEC Tournament Championship since 2005 on Wednesday in Orange Beach.
The SEC's Finest
Three Lady Vols were named to the 2008 All-SEC and All-Freshman Teams on Wednesday. Seniors Kylee Rossi and Jaimel Johnson earned spots on the first and second teams, respectively, while Chelsea Hatcher was selected for the All-Freshman Team.
A native of Pennington, N.J., Rossi led the SEC in scoring in 2008 with 13 goals, including nine during conference play. She accounted for all but five of the Lady Vols' goals and posted two game winners during the league campaign. The forward also set a UT record this season, becoming the program's career points leader on Oct. 5. The selection is the fourth of Rossi's career and her third straight to the first team.
In her third season as Tennessee's starting keeper, Johnson has recorded a 1.49 goals against average during conference play, shutting out two opponents and recording 40 saves. The Dayton, Ohio, native played every minute in goal for the Orange and White this SEC season, recording five wins. Johnson currently holds the No. 2 spot in career shutouts, saves and goals against average at UT.
Since the start of conference play, Hatcher has become a presence in the Lady Vol midfield. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native tied for third on the team with 22 shots during SEC play, helping the Orange and White lead the league in shots. Though she has yet to find the back of the net during her young career, Hatcher has come on strong of late, earning a spot in the starting midfield and playing at least 85 minutes in each of the last two matches.
Orange Beach Overture
Tennessee is competing in its 12th SEC Tournament in program history and its 10th straight. The Lady Vols have compiled a 10-8-2 record all-time in the event, winning three titles and earning 16 selections to the All-Tournament Team.
UT will play in the No.3-No. 6 match in the first round for the second consecutive year. After falling to sixth-seeded South Carolina in the 2007 first round, the Orange and White will be looking to earn an upset of its own as the No. 6 seed in the 2008 first round.
After clinching the overall SEC title on Oct. 23, Florida will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament for the third straight year. Western Division Co-Champions LSU and Auburn come into the tournament as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, after LSU earned the tie-breaker with a win over AU during the regular season. Georgia and South Carolina finished second and third in the East, earning the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. Finally, with a win over Mississippi State on Oct. 31, Ole Miss clinched the No. 7 seed, while Alabama hung on for the final spot in the tournament.
Aiming for Auburn
The Tigers enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 3 seed with an 11-7-2 overall record. Auburn earned a share of the Western Division championship with its 7-3-1 mark during conference play and has won seven of its last 10 matches, including four straight.
SEC Freshman of the Year Katy Frierson leads the Tigers with 25 points on nine goals and seven assists this season. The midfielder has posted four game winners this year and sets the pace for Auburn on the field. Juniors Rebecca Howell and Gabi Rivera have also contributed for the Tigers, with Howell dishing out a team-leading 11 assists and Rivera contributing eight helpers and two game-winning goals.
Defensively, senior keeper Allison Whitworth has posted seven solo shutouts, including five during conference play. The Birmingham, Ala., native boasts a 1.02 goals against average and 10 wins and set new single-season and career saves records for the Tigers this year.
AU and UT have met 11 times in program history. The two squads will matchup for the second time in as many weeks on Wednesday, after the Tigers claimed a 2-1, double-overtime victory on Oct. 26 at home. Following that loss, the Lady Vols now hold a 7-4-0 record all-time against Auburn.
The two teams have met just twice in the SEC Tournament, with UT taking both matches. The last meeting came in the first round in 2006, when the Orange and White notched a commanding 5-2 victory before falling in the semifinals to Kentucky.