The Tennessee women's soccer team reached uncharted territory less than a month into the season on Friday night. And from here on out the Lady Vols will have to navigate through a demanding SEC schedule.
The No. 13 Lady Vols (7-1) had an easy time in a 4-0 victory against Coastal Carolina (0-7-1) at Regal Soccer Stadium.
The Lady Vols have never been 7-1 after eight games. The previous times the Lady Vols had six wins at this point in the season — 2002, 2003 and 2007 — UT advanced all the way to the NCAA Sweet 16.
And in order to keep the record book changing, the Lady Vols will be tested first by formidable South Carolina (6-2) next Friday and two days later by No. 9 Florida (5-2), winners of the last five SEC championships.
"We always try to play a tough out-of-conference schedule so that we're prepared for anything we might face in conference," said Lady Vols coach Angela Kelly, who has been at UT for 15 years.
UT freshman Julie Eckel, who entered the game allowing 0.57 goals per game, was more of a spectator from her goalkeeper's vantage point — with no save attempts as the Chanticleers attempting only some feeble shots. Redshirt sophomore RB Wyatt, playing for the first time this season, replaced Eckels with 9 minutes left in the game.
It was fifth consecutive shutout for the Lady Vols and stretched UT's scoreless streak to 455 minutes, 38 seconds. The Lady Vols can surpass the school record set in 2007 by holding South Carolina scoreless for 1:58.
"It's just really exciting to have this momentum going into the SEC and for the whole team and the defense to be working together," said Eckel.
Caroline Brown scored just four minutes into the match for her team-leading seventh of the season. Kylie Bono made it 2-0 just eight minutes later on assists from Brown and Emily Dowd. Amy Harrison's cross to Dowd gave the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead with just under 19 minutes played.
In the second half, Dowd scored again, this time on assist from Chelsea Hatcher, after goalkeeper Megan Spencer was out of position to lead 4-0.
Most of the second half had Kelly entering the bench.
"I always have this caution in the back of my mind," said Kelly about the 8-1 start. "Today we need to better and tomorrow we need to be better. ... I'm not projecting anything forward and we're not going to worry what we've done in the past and we're going to focus what's next."