Night couldn't come quickly enough for Brian Pensky. It was a long Friday, anticipating his Tennessee soccer coaching debut.So many unknowns, starting a new era in UT soccer and a new chapter in his career.
And Samford, an NCAA tournament team last year, had credentials to feed the worry.
"I'm glad we won. I'm glad it's over,'' a relieved Pensky said after UT's 4-0 win at Regal Soccer Stadium. "I was a little more anxious than I thought I was going to be.''
Pensky arrived in January to replace long-time coach Angela Kelly. He was coaxed into leaving a good gig at the University of Maryland by UT's new athletic director Dave Hart.
And Pensky didn't want to disappoint. Been there, done that.
"I thought a lot today about my first game at Maryland,'' he said. "And that was a nauseating, zero-zero tie to Towson University.
"I was terrified of that reality. But I know we've got kids that can score goals.''
And after a while they did.
The only score of a tentative first half came when Caroline Brown took matters into her own feet, dribbling around a defender and firing a laser into the net in the 16th minute.
That allowed the Lady Vols on the pitch and the 783 fans in the stands to take a deep breath.
"Oh, definitely, said Lady Vols midfielder Amy Harrison. "It's always nerve-racking starting a season.
"But I'm not even gonna lie, we expect it from Caroline and she pulls through every time.''
Harrison, a senior from Winnipeg, pulled through in the second half, scoring twice in an eight-minute span to remove any doubt as to the outcome.
Harrison's first goal came on an assist from Brown in the 52nd minute.
"I thought we were a little 'heavy legs' in the first half,'' Pensky said, "a little fatigued.
"Goals change everything, they really do.''
Harrison was in the right place at the right time to change things again.
Iyana Moore crossed a pass from the right side to the far left of the goal. Harrison was on the spot, knocked the pass down and beat the keeper in close quarters to make it 3-0.
All parties concerned were surprised by the score.
"It was going out of bounds,'' said Harrison. "I just tried to keep it in play.
"I guess the goalkeeper didn't expect me to keep it in play and it just went through her legs.''
Kylie Bono notched the fourth goal after Katie Lenz hustled to put the ball into scoring position in front of the net.
Lenz was one of three transfers who played, along with Ashlee Burt and CC Cole.
"They give us depth and experience,'' Pensky said, "and you can't put a price on those two things.''
The first one is behind him now. The second one is Sunday at Western Kentucky.