The 2018 the Tennessee soccer team proved to be the best in program history. The Lady Vols had good players all over the field, and you knew where the offense was going to come from.
That offense, which came in the form of Bunny Shaw (32 points) and Danielle Marcano (22 points), graduated after last season and head coach Brian Pensky was tasked with finding their replacements.
Pensky found those replacements from a collection of players on last year’s squad, freshmen and a pair of transfers.
So far this season, ten different Tennessee players have scored goals. That’s only three fewer players that scored a goal all of last season for the Lady Vols.
“It is awesome and it is exactly what we need,” Pensky said. “We don’t have Bunny Shaw on our team anymore. We don’t have Danielle Marcano anymore, so we have to find goals wherever we can get them… We just need it to continue.”
Despite what many believed pre-season, the offense hasn’t shown any signs of regression without its two stars from last season’s Elite Eight team. Six games into the season the 2019 Tennessee team has matched the 2018 Tennessee team with 14 goals.
Leading the offensive production has been MA Vignola whose speed and ability with both legs makes her a threat to score anytime she is on the attack. The senior leads Tennessee with seven points, including two goals on 22 shots.
Michelle Alozie, the former Ivy League player of the year, has two goals of her own this season, and appears to be getting more and more comfortable as she returns from a torn ACL that sidelined her in her final season at Yale.
Freshman Alicia Donley and Isabella Cook have proven why Tennessee’s signing class was ranked as one of the nation’s best. Each has come to Knoxville and scored two goals in their first six collegiate games while also tying for second on the team in total points with five.
Sonia Ouchene Salón, who spent time last year with the France Under-19 team, seems to be coming into her own as well. The freshman has started all six games this season and shined the last time out assisting on and scoring a goal of her own against Cincinnati.
While she hasn’t scored a goal this season, All-SEC midfielder Katie Cousins remains a dangerous threat for the Lady Vols with a team-high four assists.
With one of the SEC’s strongest defenses the Lady Vols offense won’t be asked to win games by themselves, but proving they can do it if needed shows why this Tennessee team can be dangerous.
“It’s really really good,” Cousins said. “We’re going into SEC play soon and we’re going to need people to score goals and the more people we can have contributing to that the better for us.”
Whether Tennessee can continue this level of offensive efficiency in SEC play is another question, but so far, Brian Penksy has to be impressed with the replacement he has found.