Soccer team opens NCAA play Friday

The Tennessee women's soccer team will kick off the 2008 NCAA Tournament this Friday, Nov. 14, traveling to Chapel Hill, N.C. to meet Charlotte in the first round. The Lady Vols earned the conference's automatic bid after becoming the lowest-seeded team ever to win the SEC Tournament title. No. 1 seed North Carolina and Western Carolina will meet in the other first round matchup at Fetzer Field.

UT enters the NCAA Championships with a 10-10-2 overall record after going 2-0-1 in conference tournament play. The Lady Vols are coming off a 1-0 victory over Georgia in the championship game which marked their first win over the Bulldogs since 2006.

The Orange and White is playing in its eighth NCAA Tournament, earning consecutive selections each year since 2001. Tennessee is 10-6-2 all-time in the tournament and has reached the Sweet 16 five times in the past six years.

The Big Orange boasts the 2008 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player in senior keeper Jaimel Johnson who posted a 0.62 goals against average and 13 saves over the three matches at the event. Sophomores Tanya Emerson and Julie Edwards and freshman Chelsea Hatcher also earned All-Tournament Team selections after leading the Lady Vols to their fourth SEC Tournament title.

Though she is out with an injury, senior forward Kylee Rossi is Tennessee's career leader in NCAA Tournament points with 11. Junior midfielder Mick Imgram sits second on the list with eight points on two goals and four assists in six tournament matches. In her two trips to the NCAA Tournament, Johnson has helped UT post four shutouts, including back-to-back blankings in last year's first and second rounds.

Charlotte earned its fourth NCAA Tournament berth in program history with its second straight Atlantic 10 tournament title. The 49ers enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, riding a 14-match winning streak that has seen them out-score their opponents 52-6. Charlotte has advanced to the second round of the tournament just once before, in 1998, when it topped South Carolina before falling to North Carolina.

Western Carolina enters the other first round match with a 13-7-2 record after taking its second Southern Conference Tournament title in program history. The Catamounts topped UNC-Greensboro on penalty kicks after playing to a 0-0 draw through overtime. WCU will face No. 1-seeded UNC for the second time ever. The last time the two teams met, the Tar Heels earned a 2-0 victory in Western Carolina's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005.

North Carolina is an 18-time NCAA Champion and enters the tournament as one of the four top seeds. The Tar Heels are 19-1-2 overall and took their 19th Atlantic Coast Conference championship on Sunday with a 3-0 win over Virginia Tech. UNC will play host to three other conference champions in the first and second rounds and is looking to get back into the College Cup after getting bounced from the tournament in the Sweet 16 in 2007.

The winners of the two first-round matches will meet in the second round on Sunday, Nov. 16, with the victor advancing to the Sweet 16.

Friday's action begins with Western Carolina versus No. 1 North Carolina at 5 p.m., followed by the 49ers and the Lady Vols at 7:30 p.m. Kick off for Sunday's second round is set for 1 p.m.

All matches will be held at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. Live statistics will be available at utladyvols.com.


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