Soccer vs. Xavier

Mackenzie George (31) on the offense against Xavier University in Regal Stadium on Feb. 28, 2021.

Tennessee soccer kicked off its regular season with a win over Florida Gulf Coast University Thursday night, 6-0.

“I think that going into this season we’ve had a lot of energy and just confidence amongst everyone on our team, so we were really pumped for this game,” junior forward Claudia Dipasupil said. “We just wanted to come out here and perform as a team and that’s what we did.”

The Lady Vols posted a whopping 27 shots taken, compared to the FGCU’s eight.

“I think going into tonight we were just really focused on our shots and knowing that we needed to excel at that,” freshman midfielder Taylor Huff said.

Redshirt sophomore forward Jaida Thomas got things going for Tennessee early, scoring the first goal of the game less than two minutes in.

“Obviously an early goal is massive,” head coach Brian Pensky said. “You come first game with jitters, nerves, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been on campus for four weeks or you’ve been on campus for four years, nerves are very natural. To get that first goal was a big deal.”

Dipasupil also scored a first half goal for the Lady Vols with a free kick from just outside the box, and the Lady Vols went into the second half leading 2-0.

Tennessee kept its foot on the gas in the beginning of the second half, and scored two goals early. The first coming from freshman midfielder Jordan Fusco in the 50th minute. The second came less than a minute later from Huff off an assist from senior forward Mackenzie George.

“I thought the first ten minutes of the second half were probably our best ten minutes of the half,” Pensky said. “The energy, the speed, the pressure, the chances and then obviously the two goals put the game away.”

Huff had another goal in the 84th minute to give the Lady Vols a 5-0 lead, and Dipasupil followed that up two minutes later with her second goal of the game.

Getting in the win column early is big for Tennessee, but winning in dominant fashion sets a standard for where the team wants to perform going forward.

“It’s such a confidence booster scoring six goals and shutting them out too,” Huff said. “It’s just going to continue to push us more because we want to be at that level.”

Pensky was able to utilize his bench in Thursday’s game, giving players the chance to gain valuable experience before getting into the thick of the season.

“It’s all going to be real over the next three weeks,” Pensky said. “We’re going to go to South Florida in ten days and they’re one of the best teams in the country. Two weeks after that we’re going to go to Arkansas.

“We want these kids to be as comfortable and as confident on the field as possible. Getting kids experience is a big deal, however winning games is the biggest deal. Ideally when you can do both it’s a successful night and we did that tonight.”

The Lady Vols will stay at home for Sunday’s match when they take on Miami (OH) at 1 p.m. ET at Regal Soccer Stadium.

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