On Thursday, the Volunteer’s soccer team will meet the Florida Gators at Regal Soccer Stadium. Tennessee enters the game with a record of 8-5-2 (2-4-1), and the Gators sit at 10-5-0 (6-1-0).
Here are four things you need to know before the Vols kickoff with the Gators.
Vols return home
The Vols return home to Knoxville after a tough two-game road trip that resulted in a loss against Missouri and a draw against South Carolina. In their game against Missouri, the game was tied until the Tigers netted two goals in the final eight minutes, and Tennessee fell 0-2.
The second leg of the road trip featured an early goal by the Gamecocks, but Tennessee was able to equalize with only 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Neither side was able to score in overtime, leaving the game a 1-1 draw.
Gators season to date
Florida opened the season with a 4-4 record in non-conference play including a four-game losing streak in the middle of that stretch. Since that streak, the Gators have won eight of the past nine games. The sole loss was against Ole Miss in Oxford.
The Gators are a high-scoring side, having scored two or more goals in six of the seven SEC games they have played. Their last game was a 2-1 win over Auburn in Gainesville.
Florida’s keys to success
Coach Pensky spoke to the Daily Beacon before the game. When asked about the key to Florida’s success in the conference, Coach emphasized Florida’s rhythm.
“… like I said, they’re the best possession team in the league. That’s been their M.O. for years. They like to attack with a lot of numbers,” Pensky said, “They’ve got good midfielders. They’ve got good attacking players. They’re athletic. They’ve been just flat out-scoring opponents.”
Coach even acknowledged the potency of the Gator’s ability to maintain possession.
“When you go into a game against Florida, you know you’re going to give up some possession. That’s just life against Florida. What you want to minimize is how often they get behind you. How much of that possession can you keep in front of you and not be in dangerous spots,” Pensky said.
Volunteer’s keys to success
Coach Pensky also spoke on what will be key for the Volunteers.
“I think our focus has been on our midfield getting on the ball, and we challenged our midfield before the South Carolina game that we needed to win the midfield,” Pensky said, “We didn’t do that in our Missouri game, and we lost the game. We did it against Georgia, and we won the game. And I thought Thursday night, we won the midfield, and we earned the draw. And so continuing to get those players on the ball.”
Coach continued on, specifically named players who will be key in accomplishing their goals.
“Katie Cousins, coming back and getting closer to full strength, has been obviously a key to that,” Pensky said. “Claire Franks, Katie, Sonia Ochene Solon and Isabella Cook and Tara Katz, they have been doing great in the midfield. And the more we can get them the ball, and that’s what we’ve been continuing to focus on: the better our team is as a whole.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on SEC Network.