The Tennessee soccer team opened up the spring season with a dominant performance, defeating Gardner Webb 6-0 at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville.
It did not take long for the Lady Vols to seize control in this matchup as Abby Burdette scored the opening goal just two minutes into the match with a well placed shot from outside the 18 yard box. Burdette was a center forward prior to arriving at UT, but this was Burdette’s Volunteer debut in an attacking position after spending the fall at outside back for the Vols.
“That goal was big time,” Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky said. “It was such a classy goal and that is what she can do.”
Just eight minutes later, Tennessee doubled its lead when a bouncing ball found the foot of Jaida Thomas near the goal line and she was able to deposit it into the back of the net giving the Vols a 2-0 lead.
But Thomas’ day was just getting started. Not even two minutes later she was back on the attack as Tennessee showcased some tic tac toe passing before Mackenzie George played a beautiful cross to Thomas on the doorstep who scored a one timer for her second goal of the half.
“I was really pleased with our finishing in the first half. Anytime you can take eight shots and score 6 goals that is the goal of soccer,” Pensky said.
Thomas was able to complete the Hat trick in the 26th minute on an incisive pass from right back Tara Katz.
“Because of practice we know our roles and where we are supposed to be placed to score goals” Thomas said.
The Vols did not let up, keeping their foot on the gas and the pressure on Gardner Webb’s defense all game long. In the 28th minute, just two minutes after Thomas completed her hat trick, Tennessee was able to connect on a free kick set piece to redshirt freshman center back Giselle Washington. The goal gave the Vols a commanding 5-0 lead.
Before halftime the team was able to net one more goal when another bouncing ball was left for George to finish past the Gardner Webb keeper making the score 6-0 before halftime.
In the second half the Vols shifted their approach, but were still able to remain dominant.
“It’s one of the things we discussed at halftime. We wanted to do a better job possessing the ball,” Pensky said.
Tennessee kept Gardner Webb on its heels as they moved the ball across the back line and up the wings, but were unable to squeak across another goal.
“We got better in the second half with our possession, but now it’s about putting all the pieces together,” Pensky said. “We need to be more consistent for a full 90 minutes.”
The Vols will be back in action next week when they go on the road to square off with Southern Conference member Appalachian State on Feb. 20 at 12 p.m. ET in Boone, North Carolina.