Fresh off an SEC Tournament championship, the Tennessee soccer team has been selected as a No. 3 seed in the 2021 Women’s College Cup.
The Vols — having already tied the program record for single-season wins — have been ranked in the top-25 of the United Soccer Coaches poll for 10 of 11 weeks this season and currently sit at No. 8 in the RPI.
Though Tennessee boasted wins over No. 21 Ole Miss and No. 5 Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, the selection committee still gave the Lady Vols a No. 3 seed, with Florida State the No. 1 team in the region. Arkansas, the team Tennessee beat in the SEC Tournament final, was given a No. 2 seed in another region.
“There are 338 Division I programs and so to be a three seed that means you are top-12,” head coach Brian Pensky said. “You see the other names and the top-4 seeds, the 16 top seeded teams, there are a lot of phenomenal, historically phenomenal programs in that group. So to be in that company, our kids need to be proud of that."
"If this seeding upsets our group, that is okay, right? I don't think we're a friendly group when we're pissed off. So if our kids come out on fire Friday night, as the coach, I'll take it. Beyond that, two seed, three seed, whatever. None of that matters right now, Lipscomb is all that matters right now.”
The Lady Vols entered the season unranked and projected to finish fifth in the SEC. They worked their way to No. 22 in September and eventually a No. 10 ranking as they dominated SEC play, only losing to Arkansas and Vanderbilt.
“Winning 18 games out of 20 is remarkable and even the two that we dropped, Arkansas — that was a tough one, but we still played well in that game, and certainly losing to Vanderbilt was a dagger. In many respects we feel like we could be 19-1,” Pensky said. “You can’t make the event bigger than the game. It is just soccer. We are here because we love to play the game of soccer and we love to play together.”
The match is scheduled to happen Friday, Nov. 12 at 5:00 p.m. EST from Regal Soccer Stadium, the first-round opponent has been confirmed. Tennessee will host Lipscomb in the first round.
Tennessee enters the tournament with a record of 18-2-0. Lipscomb enters the tournament with a 15-4-1 record.
Lipscomb is no pushover — it is coming off its third ASUN championship in four years. The Vols and the Bisons have only met one time previously. That 2015 match ended in a 0-0 tie after two overtimes.
“As a player from middle Tennessee, Lipscomb has a great program,” fifth-year senior Wrenne French said. “They have had a great season, and we are really excited to have a tough opponent come to Regal. I'm really excited for our matchup.”
Florida State is the top seed in Tennessee’s side of the bracket. Other notable opponents include USF — a team the Lady Vols shut out in September — as well as Michigan and Pepperdine.
Other No. 1 seeds include Virginia, Duke and Rutgers. Michigan, UCLA, Arkansas and North Carolina were awarded No. 2 seeds.
The winner of this game will advance to the second round to face the winner of Washington State and Montana. The Women's College Cup finals will be held Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 at Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
“We just continue to compete and fight and be as tough as we can,” SEC Tournament MVP Abbey Burdette said. “I think that is one of our biggest strengths — how hard we work and how tough we compete. As long as we carry that into the postseason, we will be successful.”