3 soccer players picked All-SEC

Tennessee women's soccer team placed three players on the first annual preseason All-Southeastern Conference team chosen by league coaches. Junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson, junior forward Kylee Rossi and senior forward Emily Redberg earned spots on the 11-player team.

Rossi returns to the Lady Vols as last year's leading scorer after posting 25 points on 10 goals and five assists in 2006. The Pennington, N.J., native was second in the SEC in points and third in goals during league games with 15 and six, respectively. Rossi capped the season with Tennessee 's first SEC Offensive Player of the Year award.

As the Lady Vols' primary starting goalkeeper in 2006, Johnson posted a 1.05 goals against average and 56 saves in 15 games last year. Although an injury sidelined Johnson for most of the SEC season, she returned to post a 1-1-1 record in the NCAA Tournament, including two shutouts. Fully recovered from her injury, the Dayton, Ohio, native is set to start in goal for the Orange and White in 2007.

Bringing four years of experience with UT into her senior season, Redberg is expected be a leader on the field for the Lady Vols this season. The Brooklyn Park, Minn., native tied for second on the squad with seven goals in 2006, finishing the season with 17 points. This season, Redberg will be looking to start off the season with a repeat performance in the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic after scoring three of the Orange and White's four goals in the event and earning Offensive MVP honors in 2006.

Florida led all schools with four players on the team, including unanimous selection Stacy Bishop. The Gators, UT and South Carolina were the only squads with more than one selection on the squad. Georgia's Carrie Patterson was the only other unanimous selection.

The preseason All-SEC team consists of a minimum of 11 players. Each SEC head coach votes for three forwards, three midfielders, three defenders, one goalkeeper and one at-large candidate. No ties are broken in the voting. This year's team consisted of three forwards, two midfielders, three defenders and two goalkeepers.

The Lady Vols open the 2007 season at home, hosting the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic from Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Minnesota takes on Central Florida at 5:30 p.m. before UT meets Penn State at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31, at Regal Soccer Stadium.

SEC PREDICTIONS: The soccer team was picked by league coaches to finish second in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division, according to a poll released by the SEC. The Lady Vols received 47 points in the listing, 10 points behind Florida, which was tabbed to take home its second consecutive division title.

UT enters the season ranked No. 24 in both the NSCAA/adidas and the Soccer Buzz polls. The Big Orange also rank fourth in the Central region preseason poll and return eight starters including 2006 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, junior Kylee Rossi.

The SEC coaches selected Florida to win its second consecutive regular season title after UF registered a three year championship drought from 2002-2004. The Gators garnered nine first-place votes in both the overall and division race, while Kentucky, Georgia and Vanderbilt each received one first-place vote. Auburn was chosen to take its second straight Western Division crown, receiving eight divisional first-place votes.

The Lady Vols finished last season with a 12-7-4 record, going 6-3-2 in league play to tie for second place in the Eastern Division with Kentucky. UT was knocked out of the SEC Tournament in the semifinals by the Wildcats, marking the first year since 2001 that the Big Orange did not play in the tournament final.

EXHIBITION RESULTS: The soccer team closed out its preseason with a 1-0 win over the University of Louisville on Tuesday evening. The Lady Vols finished their two-game exhibition schedule with two shutout wins after topping Carson-Newman College 2-0 last Saturday night.

"Our girls were excited to play someone other than themselves, but we've already had two games in the first seven days, without having much time to organize them tactically as a unit, yet, still expecting them to be organized," Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "To be honest, two wins in seven days after, realistically, only four days of consistent training and one day off, I'm pretty happy with those results."

UT got on the board just 17 minutes into the match when senior forward Emily Redberg put a through ball to junior forward Kylee Rossi in the box. Rossi settled the ball and blasted a shot over diving Cardinals keeper Joanna Haig for the score.

The first half saw the Lady Vols out-shoot Louisville 6-3, but both teams had several chances in the first 45 minutes. Cardinals senior midfielder Jen Avila took both of her shots on goal in the first half and Louisville forced junior Jaimel Johnson to make two saves for UT before halftime.

Coming out of the locker rooms, both teams struggled to maintain possession. Louisville won several balls in the midfield to kick start its offense and post three shots on goal in the second half. Johnson was forced to make three saves in the final 45 minutes, including several stops on tough, close range shots from the Cardinals. Despite Louisville's efforts, Johnson and the defense held strong in the second half, preserving Tennessee's second shutout in as many games.

"I think Louisville is a very well coached and organized team," Kelly said. "I have a ton of respect for them. They exposed us in ways that are going to be great for us to now prepare to play Penn State and that's exactly what we're going to do."

The UT offense did not go silent in the second half either, posting eight shots, three of which were on goal. Overall, the Lady Vols forced Haig and backup Katie Zoeller to make six total saves on 14 shots.

Though the Tennessee players have only been practicing as a unit for one week, the exhibition matches provided several glimpses of the excellent play that could come out of the team this season. Newcomers Alissa VonderHaar and Julie Edwards teamed up for a goal against Carson-Newman, while veterans Rossi, Redberg and Johnson continued to show off their skills.

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