The last time Tennessee reached the No. 6 spot in any poll was Oct. 19, 2004, when the Big Orange sported an 11-2-2 record overall and were undefeated in SEC play at 8-0. The No. 6 ranking in 2004 came from SocerTimes.com, while UT's other previous highs are No. 7 in the NSCAA/adidas and Soccer Buzz polls.
The Lady Vols' (7-1-1, 2-0) jump in the rankings follows a successful opening weekend to the conference season in which they topped both then-No. 12 South Carolina and then-No. 15 Florida. The Orange and White opened league play with a weekend sweep for the third time in four years.
Against the Gamecocks, UT took home a 3-2 overtime victory thanks to the golden goal from junior forward Kylee Rossi in the 97th minute of the match. Sophomore midfielder Mick Imgram and junior midfielder Alissa VonderHaar also scored for the Lady Vols in their 11th win all-time against USC.
In its 2-0 win over Florida, Tennessee turned to Rossi again, with the Pennington, N.J. native notching both goals to bring her weekend total to three. Rossi scored both goals in the first half, while the UT defense and junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson held off the Gators. Johnson posted a career-high 11 saves, matching the fourth-best single game performance by a goalkeeper in program history.
Rossi was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week and picked as the Lady Vol Athlete of the Week on Monday. Both honors are the first of the season for Rossi.
In addition, Rossi was selected to the Soccer America National Team of the Week and Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week.
The junior forward scored the game-winning goals in the wins over South Carolina and Florida. The two scores move Rossi into sole possession of sixth place all-time in career game-winning goals with eight.
With the two goals on Sunday, the junior has now been involved in every goal scored against Florida in the regular season during her career at UT. In a 2-1 win in 2005, Rossi assisted on both Lady Vol goals, while last season she was responsible for both scores in another 2-1 victory. Of her 55 career points, 10 have come at the expense of the Gators.
The Soccer Buzz selection is the first of Rossi's career. Rossi has three previous selections to the Soccer America team with the most recent coming on Oct. 2, 2006. after her two-goal performance against the Gators in Gainesville. Rossi earned a spot on the National Team of the Week twice in 2005.
Two other SEC schools were represented on the national teams of the week, with Alabama goalkeeper Justine Bernier joining Rossi on the Soccer America team, and Georgia defender Megan Tomlinson earning a spot on the Soccer Buzz team. UT is currently tied with the Bulldogs for the Eastern Division lead with two wins to open the conference slate.
The Lady Vol Athlete of the Week award is Rossi's second in her tenure at UT and her first since 2005. Her last selection came after assisting on both goals against Florida and scoring once against South Carolina in October 2005.
The Orange and White will put their six-match unbeaten streak on the line this weekend. UT travels to LSU and Arkansas in the first two matches of a four-game road trip, with kickoff in Baton Rouge, La., scheduled for 7 p.m. CT on Friday.