The 20th ranked Tennessee soccer team improved to 5-1 on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats, 3-1.
Tennessee jumped on the Bearcats early, thanks to a fourth minute goal from Wrenne French. The goal came on a designed play off of a corner kick, senior midfielder Katie Cousins put a fantastic cross into the box and the junior defenseman finished it off with a header for her first career goal.
“It was so exciting,” French said. “Katie (Cousins) played a great ball into me, and it’s usually more of the offensive players jobs to score the goal so I was really happy to get one back.”
“Very exciting,” Cousins said. “It’s something we’ve been working on and to see it get executed well is pretty awesome.”
The goal marked the second time in three games that the Lady Vols scored a goal in the first five minutes, allowing their elite defense to play with a lead throughout the game.
“It’s awesome,” head coach Brian Pensky said. “Credit to our players. They were talking about it in the locker room before we go out and were like ‘Let's go get an early one. Let’s come out ready to go’. They did that. That’s a game changer… You get on early and that sets the tone.”
Despite getting five more shots on goal, Tennessee wouldn’t strike again in the first half. However, it didn’t take the Lady Vols long in the second half to extend their lead.
In the 48th minute, freshman midfielder Sonia Ouchene Salón sent a nice pass to senior MA Vignola, whose shot was saved by Madison Less right back to Salón who put it back net for her first career goal.
“We told her ‘that’s a great little ball’,” Pensky said. “It was well waited. We actually had two runners there. Salera (Jordan) did a great job of staying out of MA’s way.”
Salón wasn’t done making plays on the afternoon, either. In the 62nd minute, the French native took the ball to the baseline and put a perfect cross to freshman Isabella Cook who finished off the play extending the Lady Vols lead to 3-0.
As the Tennessee worked some less experienced players in the game the Bearcats would get one back as Ying Zang put a beautiful shot in the top right corner of the net. The 73rd minute goal put the Bearcats on the board and cut the Lady Vols’ lead to 3-1.
After playing just 14 minutes in last Sunday’s win over Columbia, sophomore goalkeeper Charli Pogany played the entire game against Cincinnati, recording three saves in the win.
“Charli (Pogany) did an excellent job communicating to her backline today,” French said. “She was in command, in charge back there, and it was a really good help as we were organizing our defense today.”
The Lady Vols will return to action next Sunday when they travel to Amherst, Massachusetts to face the University of Massachusetts. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.