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Abbey Burdette (3) facing a Georgia defender close to the Georgia goal in Regal Stadium on October 24, 2021. 

The No. 12 Lady Vols host Kentucky in a game that will decide the SEC East title. 

A win on Thursday would crown UT SEC East Champions in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2004-05 and set a program record for most regular season wins at 15. 

Tennessee (14-2-07-2) is coming off a week that included a 2-1 overtime loss at Vanderbilt and a crucial 3-1 victory against a Georgia team that was previously undefeated in divisional play. 

Kentucky (7-9-2, 1-8-0is coming off a 2-0 shutout in its home finale after defeating Missouri to pick up its first SEC victory of the year.  

Oh, they’re going to be (ready to put up a fight). They’re a really good team,” head coach Brian Pensky said. They have, I think, one of the top front-three attacking players in the league. To me it’s shocking that they’re sitting at 1-8 in the league. In six of their losses, they have either equaled or bettered their opponents in shots. 

We’re going to have our hands full." 

Kentucky outshot opponents four times this season while tying its opponents three times. 

The Wildcats’ record doesn’t show it, but a closer look at the games shows that they have made some quality efforts against strong teams. Kentucky has seven games decided by a single point. 

The Lady Vols are coming off a huge winand they will look to put the icing on the cake against the Wildcats. 

No real new message,” Pensky said. “Our kids are a pretty determined group and they’ve had their eyes on this all season long. I think that they are thankful and grateful that we get an opportunity at home to play for an East Championship."

In a coach’s world, not a whole lot needs to be said. Our kids are going to be ready. They have been all season. No reason why they won’t come out again Thursday night ready to go.” 

Offensively, Tennessee is going to be dangerous.  

The Lady Vols' average 20.4 shots per game. They have 42 goals on 327 shots with 152 on goal. Three Lady Vols are tied at goals apiece.  

Numerous Lady Vols have earned either SEC Player of the Week or various other accolades for the season based on their performance. Eight players have received some type of recognition with some, like freshman Taylor Huff, receiving SEC Player of the Week twice this season. The most recent Lady Vol to receive that honor was senior forward Mackenzie George. 

We’ve had like four players receive that award,” George said. It’s so cool being on a team with that many players receiving the award. I got it this week, but it’s because of all my teammates. Jaida setting me up, Abby setting me up with assists and our team getting the win.” 

Pensky believes the awards say a lot about his team, but it’s what comes with the awards that says more.  

We say it to our team all the time, these are team awards cause if our team doesn’t win games, our kids probably aren’t getting recognized,” Pensky said. And so, bottom line: It means we have good players, which we know we do, and it means we’re winning games, which we know we are.” 

Defensively, Tennessee has been dominant all season. The Lady Vols have done well in limiting opponent opportunity this season, allowing just 10 goals through 16 games and boasting a .069 opponent shot percentage. This comes on top of a season where they set a program record of 633 minutes of shutout against opponents. 

Kentucky is outshooting opponents 267 to 229 on the season, with 116 of those shots on goal. The player to watch for Kentucky is junior forward Jordyn Rhodes. Her 11 goals are tied for second in the conference while her 27 points and 58 shots both sit in third. 

On the defensive side, the Wildcats have allowed 22 goals while freshman goalkeeper Laura Nielsen has 80 saves thus far, putting her at second in the league. 

It’s going to be an emotional night, as it’s the last regular season home game as well as senior night for the players. It will kickoff at 6 p.m. EST Thursday at Regal Soccer Stadium. 

The seniors have become the heart and soul of our team, and I’m best friends with a lot of them,” George said. This game we want to play for them and win for them because it’s honestly been a privilege to play with people like them and as good as them on the field and off the field.” 

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