Tennessee defeats Florida, 2-1

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The first two-goal match from sophomore forward Kylee Rossi led the 16th-ranked Lady Vol soccer team to a 2-1 win over 14th-ranked Florida on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon at James G. Pressly Stadium.

The win was the first for Tennessee (5-3-3, 1-1-2) in Southeastern Conference play this season, while Florida (7-4-1, 3-1 SEC) fell for the initial time in league action.

Rossi of Pennington, N.J., tallied her first goal in the 19th minute, beating two Florida defenders down the left sideline and driving the ball inside the six-yard box before poking the shot past UT senior goalkeeper Brittni Goodwin for her third goal of the year. Rossi continued her offensive assault in the 38th minute, getting the lead pass from junior Jordan Falcusan and finishing a one-timer from 15 yards out. For Falcusan, it was her first assist in the Orange and White.

"It's wonderful for Kylee to finally have some success on the opportunities that she created for herself," said UT coach Angela Kelly. "She's such a dynamic frontrunner. She's always going to find herself having numerous opportunities each game. Since we've played such a challenging out-of-conference schedule, the opportunities have not been as frequent and have been a little bit harder to finish. It's exciting for her to reap some rewards for her efforts. I think she's really had a renewed sense of intensity and commitment on the defensive side of the ball, in these last two games. I'm just really proud of her. She makes the finishes look easy, and that just shows you how talented she is."

The Gators became much more aggressive on offense in the second half, taking 11 shots in the period. UT sophomore goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson made two of her season-high eight saves in the first seven minutes of the period. First, she dived left to stop freshman forward Angela Napolitano's shot from inside the 18-yard box. Next, she snagged junior Stacy Bishop's try after Bishop was the first to touch a loose, bouncing ball inside the penalty box.

Tennessee had a golden opportunity in the 57th minute taken away when redshirt freshman Mick Imgram was taken down just outside the penalty box by the Gators' Lauren Hyde. Hyde received a yellow card for the action, but it worked out for Florida , as Imgram's direct kick was stopped by Goodwin.

Florida put another barrage of shots on goal in a span of seven minutes starting in the 66th. Sophomore Ameera Abdullah took the first chance, firing from the right side of the box. The shot deflected off senior defender Jenny Jeffers' back before Johnson could corral it for the save. Two minutes later, the Blue and Orange got their score from junior defender Ashley Harris, after she poked in the rebound off Shana Hudson's blast from 22 yards out.

The 70th minute brought on another shot by Harris that Johnson knocked over the crossbar for another save. Napolitano got the ball on a breakaway in the 73rd, but her try from 12 yards out missed right. The last good opportunity for Florida came in the 86th minute, as Bishop tried a blast from the top of the box that Johnson was able to stop.

Overall, the Gators took a 13-9 advantage in shots and held a 8-1 edge in corner kicks. The win is Kelly's sixth triumph over Florida in 11 meetings since taking over the Lady Vol program in 2000.

"We had to absorb a lot of Florida's pressure in the second half," Kelly said. "They were throwing a lot of numbers forward. It's just a credit to our girls and to the way they competed under this type of pressure and this kind of heat. I'm just really proud of their performance. From top to bottom with as many injuries and losses of players that we've had this season, it's just a credit for the girls, how hard they work, their commitment to their fitness and their willingness to represent the University of Tennessee. Florida's a great team. (UF head coach) Becky (Burleigh) has them very well organized. They are very athletic. That's a big-time win for us."

On Friday in another road game Tennessee had played South Carolina to a 0-0 draw.

Tennessee had a great chance in the first overtime to end the match. Senior All-American midfielder Ali Christoph tried to blast a ball from 22 yards out past Gamecock junior goalkeeper Laura Armstrong, but the ball hit the crossbar and caromed out of harm's way. One minute later, South Carolina appeared to end the match with a goal, but the Gamecocks were called offside for the fourth of five times on the evening.

Johnson made her last save of the night a great one in the 63rd minute, as her punch of Ashley Kirk's 27-yard direct kick kept the Garnet and Black off the scoreboard. South Carolina had one more good opportunity, as Johnson went into traffic to try to clear a ball, but it slipped behind her in the air to USC defender Blakely Mattern. The freshman tried to head the ball into the net but missed high.

Overall, the Lady Vols had a 14-10 edge in shots, but the Gamecocks ended up with six corner kicks, compared to five for UT. The tie breaks Tennessee's overall record for draws in a season, besting the two in each of the last three seasons. It is also the fifth scoreless tie in the program's annals.

Tennessee returns home for the first match in nearly a month at the Regal Soccer Stadium as it faces LSU on Friday night at 7 p.m.

FLORIDA-TENNESSEE SCORING SUMMARY

UT: Kylee Rossi (unassisted); 18:05

UT: Kylee Rossi (Jordan Falcusan); 37:25

UF: Ashley Harris (Shana Hudson); 67:15

Shots: Florida 13, Tennessee 9.

Corner Kicks: Florida 8, Tennessee 1.

Goalkeeper Stats: Jaimel Johnson (UT) 8 saves, 1 goal, 90:00; Brittni Goodwin (UF), 3 saves, 2 goals, 90:00.

Fouls: Tennessee 17, Florida 15.

Offsides: Tennessee 3, Florida 1.

Starting Lineups

Tennessee: Jaimel Johnson (GK), Jenny Jeffers (D), Kristen Doukakis (M), Emily Redberg (F), Kylee Rossi (F), Mick Imgram (F), Sarah Van Sickle (D), Erica Griffin (D), Leslie Vineyard (M), Jordan Falcusan (D), Ali Christoph (M).

Reserves: Hayley Prendergast, Mia Boyd.

Florida: Brittni Goodwin (GK), Ashlee Elliott (M), Shana Hudson (D), Lauren Hyde (D), Daniela Sanchez (M), Stacy Bishop (F), Angela Napolitano (F), Liz Ruberry (D), Ashley Harris (D), Ameera Abdullah (M), Shelley Lyle (M).

Reserves: Megan Kerns, KeLeigh Hudson, Bianca Gibbs, Katie Green, Tricia Townsend.

Shots

Tennessee: Kylee Rossi 3, Mick Imgram 3, Emily Redberg 1, Ali Christoph 1, Jaimel Johnson 1.

Florida: Stacy Bishop 4, Angela Napolitano 2, Ashley Harris 2, Ashlee Elliot 1, Shana Hudson 1, Ameera Abdullah 1, KeLeigh Hudson 1, Katie Green 1.


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