Third-Seeded UT Opens SEC Tournament Against South Carolina

The University of Tennessee women’s soccer team enters the 2007 Southeastern Conference Tournament as the No. 3 seed, following last week’s 3-0 loss to Georgia which knocked the Lady Vols out of contention for the regular season title. The Orange and White will take on No. 6 seed South Carolina in the first round on Wed., Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

UT has won six of its last eight matches and finished the regular season with a 13-3-2 overall record. The Lady Vols and Gamecocks will meet for the second time this season. In the teams’ first match, Tennessee knocked off South Carolina, 3-2, in overtime. Junior forward Kylee Rossi notched the game-winner in the 97th minute against USC.

Rossi is just one goal shy of tying the Lady Vols’ career goals record, while junior keeper Jaimel Johnson has posted eight solo shutouts this season. UT enters the postseason with the best regular season in program history, tying the mark set in 2004.

Under Head Coach Angela Kelly, Tennessee is 10-4-2 in SEC Tournament matches, taking home three championships in seven appearances. Last season, the Lady Vols topped Auburn, 5-2, in the first round before falling to Kentucky in the semifinals.

The Gamecocks enter the tournament with a 13-5-2 overall record after going 5-4-2 in SEC play. South Carolina is 3-0-0 at neutral sites this season and is looking for its first win in program history in the conference tournament.

The two teams will meet at 2:30 p.m. CT at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Ala. The match will follow the game between No. 2-seeded Georgia and No. 7-seeded Ole Miss at noon CT.

UT Tournament Tales:

The Lady Vols enter the 2007 SEC Tournament with a 10-7-2 record all-time in the conference’s postseason event. Since 2000, when Head Coach Angela Kelly took the helm for the Orange and White, UT is 10-4-2, taking home three tournament titles during that span.

The last time Tennessee entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, was in 2006. The Lady Vols topped Auburn, 5-2, in the first round before falling to eventual champion Kentucky, 2-0, in the semifinals. The only other year that UT was seeded third in the tournament, it fell to Kentucky 4-2, in 2001.

In 2003, the Big Orange faced South Carolina in the teams’ only meeting in SEC Tournament history. The Lady Vols came away with a 1-0 win in the first round against the Gamecocks and went on to win the tournament crown after topping Ole Miss in the semifinals and edging then-No. 8 Florida 7-6 on penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 tie in the final.

Scouting South Carolina:

The Gamecocks enter the SEC Tournament with a 13-5-2 overall record after going 5-4-2 in conference play. The No. 6 seed, South Carolina has won five of its last eight matches, shutting out four opponents during that span.

Senior forward Darcel Mollon is fourth in the league in goals and points with nine and 21, respectively. The Chauganas, Trinidad native has combined with senior forward Erin Sullivan and junior forward Danila Monteiro to post 57 of the Gamecocks’ 104 points this season.

Two senior keepers, Laura Armstrong and Lindsay Thorstenson, have split time in the net for USC this season. The pair has combined to help the Gamecocks post an SEC-leading 11 shutouts this season. Armstrong has compiled a 6-1-1 record and boasts a 0.39 goals against average, while Thorstenson is 7-3-1 with a .783 save percentage.

Tennessee came away with a 3-2 overtime victory in the two teams’ regular season meeting on Sept. 27. Junior forward Kylee Rossi posted the game-winner six minutes into the first overtime. Sophomore midfielder Mick Imgram and junior midfielder Alissa VonderHaar scored the other goals for UT. Senior midfielder Ashley Kirk and Mollon notched the goals for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina is looking for its first SEC Tournament win in program history. In six appearances, the Gamecocks are 0-6-1. Last year, USC fell, 2-0, to Florida in the semifinals after advancing on penalty kicks following a 1-1 tie with Vanderbilt in the first round.

The Lady Vols hold an 11-0-2 record in the all-time series and have faced USC just once in the SEC Tournament, earning a 1-0 victory in the first round on Nov. 6, 2003.

Movin’ On Up:

Junior forward Kylee Rossi is making her way up the charts in the UT record book this season. Rossi’s 10 goals so far this year give her 28 in her career, moving her into a tie former Lady Vols Allison Campbell (1998-99) and Rhian Wilkinson (2000-03) for second all-time. With another season of eligibility remaining, Rossi is just one goal shy of tying Laura Lauter Smith (1997-2000) for the career goals record. With her second straight six-point week, Rossi is now in sole possession of fourth in points with 70 in her career.

The junior is also now tied for the record in game-winnning goals with 11 after notching both deciders for UT last week. Rossi is tied with former Lady Vol Kayla Lockaby (2001-04) for the lead.

Rossi’s 75 shots so far this season are first on the team, pushing her total to 228 shots during her tenure at UT. With her last shot against Auburn on Oct. 28, Rossi passed Ali Christoph (2003-06) for second all-time. Rossi is now just 12 shots away from matching Lyndsey Patterson’s (2001-04) record total of 240 shots.

The Tournament Field:

Following SEC regular season champion Florida’s win over Vanderbilt on Sunday, the conference announced the tournament seedings and bracket. With their 9-2-0 record in league play, the Gators enter the event as the No. 1 seed for the second straight year. Georgia’s win over UT on Nov. 2 gave the Bulldogs the No. 2 seed. The No. 4 seed is LSU, followed by No. 5 Auburn. Ole Miss and Kentucky round out the tournament field as the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds, respectively.

UF will face No. 8 Kentucky at 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, while UGA will take on No. 7 Ole Miss to kick off the tournament at noon CT. Western Division rivals LSU and Auburn will meet at 7:30 p.m. CT to close out first round action.

After a day off on Thursday, the winners of the Georgia-Ole Miss match and the UT-South Carolina game will clash on Friday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m. CT. The victors of the Florida-Kentucky match and the Auburn-LSU matchup will follow with the second semifinal at 8 p.m. CT.

Sunday’s final will be televised live on the FOX Sports Net and SunSports networks at 2:30 p.m. CT. The winner of the SEC Tournament crown will earn the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Story Courtesy: TN Lady Vols Sports Information

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