Lady Vols host soccer classic

In their first matches since moving back into the top 10, the 10th-ranked Lady Vols take on UNC-Greensboro and Middle Tennessee in the 2006 First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic this Friday and Sunday at the Regal Soccer Stadium.

Friday's schedule starts with the Mercer Bears taking on MTSU at 5:30 p.m. The Orange and White then square off against UNC-Greensboro at 8 p.m.

On Sunday, the Bears and Spartans will clash starting at 12:30 p.m., with the in-state showdown between Tennessee and Middle Tennessee wrapping up the weekend action at 3 p.m.

The Big Orange, coached by Angela Kelly, will try for their second title in the seventh weekend tournament held at UT. Last year, Texas A&M swept to the crown with wins over Washington and Stanford. Other previous champions include North Carolina (1998, 2004), George Mason (1999) and Xavier (2000).

Senior All-American midfielder Ali Christoph was the hero last weekend against No. 6 Virginia, ending the second overtime match in UT history with a penalty kick after freshman forward Devon Swaim was fouled in the penalty box. For Christoph, it was her ninth career match-winner, tying her for third all-time at Tennessee. However, it was Christoph's first golden goal in 16 career overtime matches.

UNC-Greensboro comes to Knoxville with an 0-4 record against tough competition, falling to two currently ranked teams and playing three Atlantic Coast Conference squads thus far. The Spartans went 11-7-1 last year and return seven starters from the team that finished third in the Southern Conference.

Middle Tennessee makes the two-and-a-half hour trip to Rocky Top with a perfect 4-0 mark, out-scoring their opponents, 14-4. The Sun Belt Conference's third-place finisher a year ago, the Blue Raiders bring back eight starters from that 13-5-2 team. Starting goalkeeper Courtney Fortner has a 0.88 goals against average so far, while Holly Grogan has tallied four goals and 11 points on the young season.

The Lady Vols have never faced the Spartans before, though UT does hold a perfect 6-0 mark against other Southern Conference teams. Tennessee holds a 2-0 advantage in the season series against in-state rival Middle Tennessee, though this will be the first meeting between the programs since 1997.

Gametracker live stats will be available for all four matches via the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic link on the women's soccer page at utladyvols.com.

HONORS AND RANKINGS: The accolades keep coming in for the backline on Tennessee's soccer team, as senior defender Jenny Jeffers earned a spot on the Soccer Buzz magazine Elite Team of the Week and sophomore goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson grabbed Lady Vol Athlete of the Week honors, as voted on by the women's athletics media relations department.

The Lady Vols picked up their first win of the season with a 1-0 overtime triumph over then-No. 6 Virginia. UT allowed only four shots on goal to the Cavaliers, less than half of their season average, while Johnson was able to stop all four threats on net. Jeffers and her teammates stopped numerous attempts by the threatening Virginia offense and also drew the Cavs offside on three occasions.

UT also took home the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week award after Johnson collected her first career shutout against the Cavaliers. It was Johnson's first career individual honor.

For Jeffers, it is the second time she has been selected by the Soccer Buzz staff, following her pick on Nov. 10, 2005, after helping UT to three consecutive shutouts in the 2005 SEC Tournament. In addition, Jeffers was selected to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week for the initial time this year and third time overall.

After the dramatic victory against No. 6 Virginia last Sunday, the Lady Vols moved up in the national polls to the high spot of 10th as chosen by SoccerTimes.com.

Tennessee also stands 12th in the first regular-season release from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and adidas, while it ranks 13th in the latest Soccer Buzz magazine poll. Soccer America magazine has the Lady Vols standing 14th in the country this week.


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