The game winner came with just under four minutes remaining in the first overtime period. Senior forward Emily Redberg dished the ball to Rossi on the left-hand side of the box where she struck the ball, putting it into the right corner of the net. The goal is the Pennington, N.J., native's second of the season.
"I was struggling during the first part of the season and the team's been so supportive," Rossi said. "It feels so good to just get that goal."
The match came to overtime following a goal from junior midfielder Alissa VonderHaar in the 84th minute, which drew Tennessee even with the Gamecocks at two goals apiece. After a UT shot was punched away by South Carolina keeper Lindsay Thorstenson, the ball rebounded to VonderHaar, who took no chances and blasted it into the back of the net from the middle of the box.
The second half saw the Gamecocks use their quickness up top to break down the Lady Vol defense. USC doubled its number of shots from the first half in the second frame, notching eight shots and posting two goals in the half.
Senior midfielder Ashley Kirk gave the Gamecocks a 2-1 advantage at the 80-minute mark, pushing a header past UT junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson after receiving a perfect cross from freshman forward Brooke Jacobs from the right flank. The goal was Kirk's first of the season.
With UT up 1-0, 20 minutes into the second half, South Carolina found the back of the net for the first time. Senior midfielder Erin Sullivan found senior forward Darcel Mollon on the left-hand side of the box after Mollon broke through the Lady Vol defense with impressive speed. Mollon placed the ball on the ground in the right hand corner, knotting the match at 1-1.
Though they allowed two goals, the Orange and White still out-shot the Gamecocks 11-8 in the second half. UT had several great chances to put another goal in the net in the second frame, forcing Thorstenson to make three saves in the half.
The two squads looked well-matched in the first half, with both teams taking four shots and UT committing four fouls to South Carolina's three. Thorstenson made three saves in the first frame, while Johnson made two.
The Lady Vols opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the match, with sophomore forward Mick Imgram notching her third goal of the season after receiving a pass from Redberg. The goal gives Imgram eight points on the season to lead the team.
The Orange and White out-shot the Gamecocks 17-13 in the match. Thorstenson made six saves and Johnson needed five to record the 12th victory of her career.
"Jaimel was a stud, as I always say," Kelly said. "Stud goalkeepers need to make saves that the average goalkeeper shouldn't, and that's usually one or two big saves a game. She hasn't let us down yet, and I don't think that she will."
Rossi led Tennessee with five shots, including three on goal, while Kirk and Sullivan both took four shots to lead the Gamecocks. The third golden goal of Rossi's career moves her into a tie for first in the UT record books with former Lady Vol greats Keeley Dowling and Rhian Wilkinson.
"I'm very happy for Kylee Rossi," Kelly said. "There are a lot of keepers that we played in our non-conference season that made some big-time saves on her. She deserved this goal tonight, and I thought she worked very hard throughout the course of the game."
The two assists for Redberg mark the second straight match in which she has been involved in multiple goals. The Brooklyn Park, Minn., native scored the first and assisted on the second goal against UNC Greensboro last week.
Tennessee recorded its 23rd overtime win in program history and improved its record against ranked opponents this season to 3-0-1. The Lady Vols are now 11-0-2 in the series against South Carolina, and are 5-1-0 all-time in SEC openers at home.
"When you play in the conference it's about pride," Rossi said. "All the other games are about pride too, but this is kind of like your backyard. All the teams are like your neighbors and you don't want anybody coming to your house and beating you. Our team as a whole steps up in the SEC season."
UT now takes a two-day break before facing its second ranked opponent in two games in No. 15 Florida on Sunday. The Lady Vols have won five of the last eight meetings with the Gators, including four consecutive regular season victories.
Kickoff for the match, which will be televised by Cox Sports TV, is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Regal Soccer Stadium.
"We have our work cut out for us on Sunday against the reigning SEC champs in Florida," Kelly said. "That's always a battle. We'll do our best to organize ourselves and recover and get ready to hopefully give Florida a run for their money on Sunday."