Tennessee soccer coach Angela Kelly on the loss to South Carolina
Just like the crowd wearing the 1,500 free Lady Vols scarves around their necks,a similar grip by South Carolina ended a number of streaks by the Tennessee women's soccer team at Regal Soccer Stadium.
The Lady Gamecocks (7-3, 1-0 SEC) figured a way to score against freshman goalkeeper Julie Eckel to beat the Lady Vols 2-1 in two overtimes on Friday night.
The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the No. 12 Lady Vols (7-2-0, 0-1).
Forward Kayla Grimsely found a seam with teammates Lolly Holland and Kortney Rhoades trailing on the left side for a 3-on-1 advantage. Grimsley's pass to Rhoades was on the mark and the senior midfielder beat Eckel with 4:26 left on the clock.
"We worked on that in practice," said Grimsley. "Making the runs from the outside and slashing it across. ... (Rhoades) made an incredible run and I put it right between the two."
South Carolina freshman goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo, who entered the game with an 0.39 goals-against-average, made just 5 saves, but the Lady Vols took 24 shots with many of them just missing.
"We need to bury our chances," said Lady Vols coach Angela Kelly. "We had numerous chances to put the ball in the back of the net. Credit their goalkeeper came up big on a number of different occasions. We have to execute. We have to have the wherewithal to put it away. And that's the bottom line"
The only shot that found the net for the Lady Vols was Caroline Brown's eighth goal of the season. The sophomore forward was denied in the box by D'Angelo, but with the ball loose and a second opportunity from almost the same spot and the same kick, the game was tied at 1-1 with 36:44 left to play in the second half.
A strong kick Rhoades easily beat Eckle at the 29:28 mark of the first half. The goal ended UT's streak of not allowing a goal at 471 minutes, 10 seconds, a span of 5 complete games and parts of two other games.
Still, UT needed only 1:58 into the game to break the previous school record for the longest shutout streak.
During a string of five consecutive shutouts, Eckel had stopped 22 consecutive shots. She entered the game with a 0.51 goals-against-average to help the Lady Vols to their best start in program history after 8 games.
South Carolina attempted 20 shots and Eckel made 6 saves.
South Carolina forward Danielle Au came within inches of breaking the tie when her booming shot smacked the top of the crossbar with 19:30 left in the second half.
D'Angelo came out of her goal to challenge senior forward Emily Dowd, who after some quick footwork had a breakaway. D'Angelo was able to get a hand on the shot to slow it down and a South Carolina defender sped up to kick the ball as it rolled toward the mouth of the goal.
"It was a tough game and we'll move forward," said Eckel.
The Lady Vols will need to move forward with No. 6 Florida (8-2, 1-0), winners of the last five SEC championships, in Knoxville at 1 p.m. Sunday (TV: CSS, 2 p.m., tape delayed).
"The most important message I gave our young ladies was that we have a lot of substance," said Kelly. "We did a lot of great things. We're going to take this experience and we're going to be better."
Notebook: With the help of free scarves and $1 tickets, UT had the second largest crowd at Regal with 2,846.
Phil Kaplan is sports editor. He may be reached at 865-342-6285. Follow him at http://twitter.com/philkaplan