With head coach Brian Pensky going for his 150th win as Tennessee’s head coach, the Lady Vols improved to 2-0 on the year, defeating the Mercer Bears, 3-0.
“That’s really awesome,” MA Vignola said of Pensky’s 150th win. “I think we’re all playing for Brian (Pensky) here and all playing for each other, so I think it’s really awesome that we all got to 150 together.
Despite Tennessee’s defensive dominance on the afternoon, Mercer had a great chance to take an early lead in the 14th minute.
With a Mercer forward a step ahead of her and a clear path to the goal, Tennessee’s Maya Neal made an impressive slide tackle from the side, knocking the ball free and allowing Tennessee goalkeeper Charli Pogany to corral the ball.
“Maya being Maya,” Pensky said with a smile. “She is crazy fast, but she’s got a lot of it in her mind and in her heart. She’s so determined and she is not to be beaten and it was just Maya being Maya.”
Tennessee found itself in Mercer territory often on Sunday as 61% of the game was played on the Bears’ side of the field.
It didn’t take Tennessee long to get scoring chances as the Lady Vols’ quickly took five shots in the first fifteen minutes of the game. Tennessee finally broke the tie when Vignola shook a Mercer defender and scored to give the Lady Vols a 1-0 lead.
“The coaches were telling me a lot to stay wide,” Vignola said. “I listened to them and took it myself with the help of switching the field, that was the main focus for the night was to be able to switch the field, that’s what we did and Sonia (Ouchene Salón) had a great ball. I just took it home.”
Tennessee almost extended its lead in the 38th minute thanks to Yale grad transfer Michelle Alozie. Alozie, who entered the game in the 27th minute, found the ball in the box, putting a shot on goal before getting the ball back and Ebert making another impressive save.
Neither of Tennessee’s goalies saw much action in the win as their defense suffocated Mercer, not allowing the Bears to attempt a single shot.
Like they did in Thursday’s season opening win over Fordham, each goalkeeper played a half. Charli Pogany played the first half Sunday while Lindsey Romig played the second.
Tennessee’s offense slowed down slightly in the second half as the Lady Vols’ got just one shot on goal in the first 30 minutes of the half. However, Tennessee found the breathing room it was looking for in the 77th minute.
After two consecutive saves by Ebert Tennessee regained possession and Ebert couldn’t save a third as freshman Claudia Dispasupil got one past her for her first goal in a Tennessee uniform.
If Dispasupil’s goal gave Tennessee breathing room Alicia Donley’s strike from the right side proved to be the dagger as it extended Tennessee’s lead to 3-0 in the 83rd minute.
The stat sheet showed Tennessee’s dominance even more than the final score as the Lady Vols outshot Mercer 22 to zero, and won the possession battle 65-35.
“It was great,” Pensky said. “Has to happen. Our possession has been fantastic and the number of passes we’re attempting and connecting have been some of the best its been at my time here at Tennessee. However, 12 shots and 14 shots aren’t good enough. We need to be into the twenties.”
Tennessee will return to action Thursday as the Lady Vols travel to Piscataway, New Jersey to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.