To kick off the 2019 season, the Tennessee women’s soccer team executed on all fronts.
The Lady Vols opened their season playing the Fordham Rams.
Tennessee was off to an electric start in Regal Stadium, quite literally. The game began with a lightning delay in the fifth minute. The Lady Vols had the one and only shot on the board at the beginning of the lightning delay. The shot was taken by MA Vignola.
The Severe Weather Delay started at 7:09 p.m. and concluded at 9:11 p.m., lasting for two hours and two minutes before Tennessee and the opposing Rams took the field again.
When asked how his team dealt with the adversity of the weather delay, head coach Brian Pensky said, “The team that deals with that (adversity) the best puts themselves in the best chance to win.” The Lady Vols executed and dealt with that adversity.
Tennessee kept the offensive pressure up after the extended weather delay. A yellow card was forced after a strong offensive push towards the goal, called on the Rams' Alex Morello in the eleventh minute.
Sophomore Amy Thompson had a nice shot on goal in the fifteenth minute, but Fordham’s third-year starting keeper, Kelly LaMorte notched her first save of the night by preventing her goal.
Tennessee was able to score on only their third shot of the night. One of the Lady Vols resident seniors, MA Vignola, scored in the nineteenth minute. The goal was assisted by redshirt senior Katie Cousins. The Cousins lead Vignola with a cross directly in front of the goal for a powerful shot.
“It’s super exciting,” Cousins said about her first goal of the season. “One, just our first goal of the season, just a rocket of a shot of MA’s foot, and then also exciting because we’ve been working on that.”
In the twenty-eighth minute, Tennessee’s only scorer was substituted out with an injury and was replaced by Colleen McIlevenna.
In the thirty-fourth minute, Yale transfer Michelle Alozie was substituted into the game.
With ten minutes left in the first half, Fordham’s offense picked up the pace and took possessions away from the Lady Vols to close out the half.
At halftime, Tennessee lead 1-0, controlling the game with four shots (three on goal) and 65% possession. The Fordham Rams had two shots (none on goal), eight penalties and 35% possession.
Tennessee decided to switch keepers at halftime. After starting Lindsey Romig, freshman from Virginia, they switched to Charli Pogany for the second half.
The Lady Vols came out of the gate swinging with a quick goal in the forty-eighth minute, less than three minutes into the second half. The goal was scored by Erin Gilroy. The New York native was assisted by Isabella Cook and Thompson.
Not long after Tennessee notched another goal in the fifty-fifth minute to advance their lead to 3-0. The goal was scored by Salera Jordan and assisted by Cousins.
“I just remembered just trying to be tough,” Cousins said of her second assist of the night. “Just like our team is always trying to be.”
Head Coach Brian Pensky appeared to park the bus after their third goal by substituting out Cousins and Gilroy, two of the top offensive players in the game.
Fordham’s defense, which only allowed nineteen goals in the 2018 season, started to show up late in the game. The Rams’ veteran goalie Kelly LaMorte secured two saves in the second half.
In the eighty-second minute, Fordham’s Marissa Stanco had a shot on goal, but the Vols keeper Carli Pogany was able to pull off the save to keep the Rams off of the board.
Fordham scored a last-minute goal in the eighty-ninth minute courtesy of Amanda Miller to get cut the Lady Vols’ lead to 3-1.
Tennessee executed well in their first game of the season, showing flashes of their Final Four team from the previous season.
The Lady Vols’ season continues in Knoxville on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. against Mercer.