Tennessee scored an important early season women’s soccer victory, rallying to beat Central Florida 2-1 on Friday.
Trailing by a goal at halftime, Katie Lenz and Hannah Wilkinson scored the goals for Tennessee (2-1) and senior goalkeeper Julie Eckel made them stand for an upset of the No. 17 Golden Knights in Orlando, Fla.
Eckel showed why she is considered one of the top goalkeepers in the SEC. She had six saves, most in stunning fashion. Tennessee’s defense survived several UCF attacks as the Knights owned a 17-7 shot advantage and a 11-3 edge on corner kicks.
“Julie Eckel is an absolute stud,” Lady Vols coach Brian Pensky said in a school release. “She made some big-time saves. Then Cheyenne’s free kick changes the game. One kick, one play, one moment can change a game — whether it was Julie’s saves keeping us in the game or out team defending or Cheyenne’s goal.”
After stopping a corner attempt by the Lady Vols, UCF (2-1) came charging downfield on a first-half counter attack that led to Jennifer Martin’s goal in the 21st minute.
On a free kick about 10 yards outside the UCF box, Spade sent in an outstanding set piece into the box. Lenz tapped it in with a header for the equalizer in the 54th minute.
Wilkinson’s decisive score in the 81st minute for Tennessee was her first goal of the season. With a running, diving header, Wilkinson punched the ball into the right side of the net.
Cross Country: Peter Okwera won his first cross country title for Tennessee at the Belmont Opener.
Okwera held off Belmont’s Matt Miller in a sprint through the finish line, finishing the 5,000-meter course at Nashville’s Percy Warner Parker in 15 minutes, 41.85 seconds.
Two other Vols finished in the top 10 with Kyle Walter (15:58.54) in sixth and Stephen Derlath taking ninth (16:02.62).
In the women’s race, freshman Emily Williams paced the Lady Vols, finishing 17th in 18:49.05.
The event was scoring in a dual meet format. The Vols defeated SEC foes Kentucky and Vanderbilt, while the Lady Vols lost to both rivals.
Okwera, a junior, recorded five top-10 individual finishes last season.
“Peter had a couple of tough races last year that he didn’t win but was very close,” Tennessee director of track and field/cross country J.J. Clark said in a school release. “He looked good. He looked very controlled.”