The Lady Vols kicked off their season with a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday in Tuscaloosa.
The first half of the game was highly competitive with chances for both sides. The Lady Vols came out of the gate fast and held the majority of possession early, but it was not long before the momentum started to shift.
The Crimson Tide was able to press the Tennessee defense with precise passing and keep the pressure mostly on the Lady Vols half of the pitch.
The pressure from the Tide created counter strike opportunities, but the Lady Vols were unable to capitalize on their chances and were stifled by Alabama’s goalie McKinley Crone.
In the 25th minute, Arizona transfer and Tennessee’s attacking midfielder, Brooke Wilson suffered a knee injury and needed to be carted off the field. The junior who was just named to the preseason SEC coaches watch list, appears to be a crucial loss for the Lady Vols, having lost her fantastic passing ability in the center of the offense.
Alabama was peppering the Vols defense with chances before Casey Wertz awarded a penalty kick in the 19th minute on a high boot by left back Bridie Herman.
Riley Mattingly was able to convert the penalty kick for Alabama against the Lady Vols' 2019 SEC All-Freshman goalie Lindsey Romig.
The half ended 1-0, but the Crimson Tide wasted no time getting started in the second half when freshman Felicia Knox connected on a cross to Mattingly for her second goal just two minutes and 50 seconds into the half.
The Tide did not let up after the second goal, scoring just a minute later in the 49th minute when Macy Clem was able to connect with Serena Pham at the top of the box before taking a touch and burying the shot in the bottom right corner of the net to give Alabama a 3-0.
It was not all bad for the Vols as another preseason SEC coaches watch list member, Erin Gilroy was able to net a fabulous goal in the top left corner in the 75th minute.
The Lady Vols who were 9-6-3 last season and 3-5-2 in SEC play, were without their head coach Brian Pensky who was in isolation because of COVID-19. Pensky has tested negative six times in the last eight days and came into contact with the virus through his family and not Tennessee staff, players or facilities. Pensky is expected to rejoin the team next week.
The Lady Vols return to action against Vanderbilt at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville. The game will also be broadcast on ESPNU.