Lady Vols to take on Tar Heels

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Tennessee soccer steps into the national spotlight against top-seeded North Carolina for a rematch of its 2002 NCAA Tournament regional semifinal loss. Match time set for 6 p.m. EST on Saturday at Fetzer Field.

Tennessee enters the weekend with a 12-6-4 overall record after a scoreless tie against Duke in the NCAA second round forced a shootout to see which team would move on in the national draw. Sophomore goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson stopped the first shot in the penalty kick series to set up sophomore forward Kylee Rossi's clincher, granting the Lady Vols their fourth national round of 16 appearance in five years.

The Tar Heels bring a 23-1 record into the match-up after downing UNC Asheville, 7-0, in the first round before dropping Navy by a 4-0 mark in a second-round contest pitting two one-loss teams. Carolina won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles, the 16th time in history for each crown.

The Orange and White defense will receive its staunchest test of the season against a squad that ranks ninth in the country offensively with 2.83 goals per game. Senior defender Jenny Jeffers leads a group that finished the Southeastern Conference season standing second in shots allowed (10.09) and third in shots on goal allowed (4.55). Jeffers is scheduled to start her 70th consecutive match, which ranks fourth in UT annals.

Offense for the Big Orange could also present a challenge. UNC's defense leads the nation with a 0.33 goals against average and allows just over five shots per match. The frontline of redshirt freshman Mick Imgram, junior Emily Redberg and Rossi have tallied nearly two-thirds of Tennessee's goals on the year, with Rossi leading the way with 10.

North Carolina will showcase its typical roster of stars ready for the threat from the Lady Vols. A pair of national player of the year finalists lead the offensive attack, as sophomore midfielder Yael Averbuch, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, leads the way with 15 goals and senior forward Heather O'Reilly tops the squad with 14 assists. Sophomore goalkeeper Anna Rodenbough holds an 0.34 goals against average coming into the match.

The two programs have faced off on eight previous occasions, only missing each other in 2003 and 1996, the inaugural year of Tennessee soccer. Carolina holds a 7-0-1 advantage in the meetings, with the Lady Vols fighting to a scoreless draw in the 2004 First Tennessee Classic. The meeting is a homecoming for UT head coach Angela Kelly, who played for four years under UNC boss Anson Dorrance and won four national titles as a Tar Heel from 1991-94.

Live statistics via Gametracker will be available via the link at utladyvols.com.


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