The Tennessee Vols soccer (2-3-1) lost by a score of 3-1 to 9th ranked Texas A&M (4-1) Friday night at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville. Here are the key takeaways.
The Aggies were more than content to be patient and wait for their opportunities to attack against a stingy Tennessee defense that has allowed just three goals over their last four contests. Texas A&M were patient and methodical with their ball movement, often recycling balls back to their keeper if an attacking play did not present itself.
“Obviously we gave away some possession and we knew we were going to do that,” Vols head coach Brian Pensky said.
The Aggies were able to build steadily through the midfield along with occasionally sending wingers down the outside of the pitch. The strategy was clear for Texas A&M, possess the ball.
Tennessee was unable to create enough chances on offense having been thoroughly out possessed throughout the game. Despite the ball being in the Texas A&M half of the pitch, the Vols were unable to create turnovers in the Aggie half as they passed the ball around the back line fairly easily. Tennessee upped the pressure but A&M was unphased by the pressing middies and forwards as they always seemed to find a passing lane.
The Vols struggled with movement and tracking the Aggies runners when they pushed up the field. They were able to cut and slice through the defense and up the wings forcing Tennessee to lose its shape at times.
“Really disappointing to be down 2-0 at half,” coach Pensky said. “The first goal, nobody managed the runner.”
The defensive unit at a whole has been solid this year regardless of formation and it was rare to see Texas A&M players get in behind the Vols back line. The Aggies showcased their talent and attacking prowess with incisive runs out wide and at the heart of the defense.
Lack of Offensive Production
Tennessee however, was unable to build a sustainable amount of offense. The pressure applied by the Aggies frequently rattled some of the Tennessee players forcing them into some turnovers. The Vols struggled to string passes together and possess the ball themselves after they were able to win possession from the Aggies. Whenever the Aggies felt pressure they were able to play the ball back to their defense and maintain possession along the back line unlike Tennessee. Tennessee was able to score a late goal to make the game seem a little closer than it really was.
The Vols look to bounce back from the uncharacteristic loss next Friday, October 30th, when they take on the Florida Gators in Gainesville at 6 p.m.