Caroline Brown scored on a penalty kick to lift Tennessee to a 1-0 victory over No. 20 Texas A&M on Friday night at Regal Soccer Stadium in the SEC women’s soccer opener for both teams.
The rest was left up to Julie Eckel and some aggressive play by the defense.
In the 32nd minute, a Texas A&M defender fouled Katie Lenz inside the box to set up the penalty kick for Brown. Brown found the upper left of the goal to beat Jordan Day.
“I am so happy for our kids,” Lady Vols coach Brian Pensky said in a school release. “They played two things. I thought that their soccer in the first half was very good, I thought that our possession was very good.”
The Lady Vols (6-2-1, 1-0 SEC) improved to 3-0 all-time against the Aggies (5-3-1, 0-1).
Allie Sirna led the UT back line, which limited Texas A&M to four shots in the first half. The Aggies had 11 shots in the second half to pressure Eckel.
Leigh Edwards of Texas A&M nearly tied the game early in the second half when she sent a shot from outside the box and Eckel leaped to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Eckel, a junior, finished with four saves, three in the second half, for the 22nd career shutout for the junior.
Senior forward Katie Lenz played 77 minutes off the bench and provided aggressive play for the Lady Vols.
“We knew Texas A&M is a fast, fit team. They are a punch-you-in-the-mouth kind of team,” said Pensky. “They want to come after you right away. We had a choice, we could to try to punch them in the mouth back or we could sit back. And we wanted to play to prove that we are a good team and to prove that we can compete and battle. We wanted to prove that we could win a real ball and things like that.
“Our soccer, you saw it on the scoreboard and you saw it in the stats, we were the better team. I thought we deserved to be up one to nothing. So I am very proud of our kids.”
The Lady Vols shut out Texas A&M last season.