Lady Vols down Georgia, 3-1

Three unanswered goals by the 21st-ranked Lady Vols propelled Tennessee to a 3-1 triumph over Georgia in the final regular season match of the year for both squads on a rainy, chilly Friday night at the Regal Soccer Stadium.

The victory, along with the Florida/South Carolina tie and Kentucky's win over Vanderbilt, assures the Lady Vols of at least a three seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala.

Georgia (10-8, 5-6 SEC) took the initial lead in the 21st minute. Bulldog freshman Carrie Patterson, the SEC's leading scorer, got a ball from senior midfielder Randi-Lynn Bruso and beat sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Kitchin to the far post for her 12th score of the year.

The Orange and White (10-5-3, 6-3-2 SEC) knotted up the match in the 58th minute when senior All-American midfielder Ali Christoph blasted home a 30-yard shot from the far right wing.

Tennessee continued the comeback bid in the 67th minute. Sophomore defender Sarah Van Sickle tossed one of her patented long throws into the penalty box, where sophomore forward Kylee Rossi flicked it to fellow sophomore Mia Boyd. The fresh-legged Boyd saw redshirt freshman forward Mick Imgram free and passed the ball to her, where Imgram buried the shot in the net past Georgia freshman netminder Michelle Betos for the score. The goal was Imgram's second game-winner of the season, while Boyd picked up her first career assist on the play.

Midfielder Kristen Doukakis added an insurance goal in the 83rd when junior forward Emily Redberg put the centering cross at Doukakis' feet, where the senior punched it over the line for her first goal of the year. The assist was Redberg's first of the season.

"I was very pleased with how we knocked the ball around and how we moved the ball," Lady Vol head coach Angela Kelly said. "We did a great job possessing it. We didn't do a good job of creating scoring opportunities in the attacking third in the first half, but we figured out a way to be a little more dynamic in the attacking third in the second half, and that's a credit to them."

In the first half, Georgia controlled play for the majority of the time, taking 10 shots in the period compared to just three by the Lady Vols. After getting their goal, the Bulldogs had two shots in the 28th minute to take a 2-0 lead. First, Bruso got a shot inside the 18-yard box that Kitchin blocked. Patterson tried to follow up with the rebound, but Kitchin again made the stop.

Later in the period, Tennessee nearly tied up the match thanks in part to the wet conditions. In the 33rd, Doukakis tried a chip shot over Betos from 24 yards out. The freshman got her hands on it, but the slick ball slipped out of her grasp. Luckily for Georgia, the ball went to Betos' side instead of behind her, who was just in front of the goal line, where she could come down and grab the ball before it entered the goal.

Kitchin made the best of her career-high eight saves in the second half. A 64th-minute try by senior midfielder Cortni Joyner from the right side of the penalty area was punched away from goal by Kitchin with her right foot for a great kick save.

"That was a big-time save," commented Kelly.

In the match, Georgia had a 13-11 advantage in shots and a 4-1 lead in corner kicks. Christoph's score moves her into a tie for sixth all-time in points with 64, while she is one start away from tying Keeley Dowling for the program's career record.

"(The win) was just a great way to finish off the regular season," said Kelly. "These seniors have given so much to the program. All four of them have contributed significantly on and off the field. It was great to see Ali and Kristen get those goals. It was just a great second-half finish for us."

The Lady Vols will open SEC Tournament play at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex on Wednesday during the afternoon session depending on their seed. A Kentucky win on Sunday pushes Tennessee into the third spot, which means a 2:30 p.m. start time against the sixth seed. A tie or loss by the Wildcats hands UT the second seed, which puts them into the first game of the tournament against the seven seed.

SCORING SUMMARY

UGA: Carrie Patterson (Randi-Lynn Bruso); 20:16

UT: Ali Christoph (unassisted), 57:13; Mick Imgram (Mia Boyd, Kylee Rossi), 66:33; Kristen Doukakis (Emily Redberg), 82:22.

Shots: Georgia 13, Tennessee 11.

Corner Kicks: Georgia 4, Tennessee 1.

Goalkeeper Stats: Sarah Kitchin (UT) 8 saves, 1 goal, 90:00; Michelle Betos (UGA), 2 saves, 3 goals, 90:00.

Fouls: Tennessee 12, Georgia 12.

Offsides: Tennessee 2, Georgia 0.

Starting Lineups

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

Reserves: Sarah Van Sickle, Hayley Prendergast, Mia Boyd.

Georgia: Michelle Betos (GK), Catherine Bruce (D), Joni Vickers (M), Megan Tomlinson (D), Lena Franklin (D), Leslie McConnell (D), Kelly Whitaker (M), Randi-Lynn Bruso (M), Cortni Joyner (M), Lauren Glancy (F), Carrie Patterson (F).

Reserves: Britta Byrne, Natalie Farley, Ashley Stinson, Missy Vierling, Lindsay Stein, Kristin Garman.

Shots

Tennessee: Mick Imgram 5, Ali Christoph 3, Kristen Doukakis 2, Mia Boyd 1.

Georgia: Carrie Patterson 7, Cortni Joyner 3, Kelly Whitaker 1, Randi-Lynn Bruso 1, Lauren Glancy 1.


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