The Tennessee soccer team is set to face Vanderbilt for the second time this season in the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama. Tennessee enters the match as the tournament’s No. 2 seed, while Vanderbilt is No. 7.
Here are four things to remember before the match.
Last time out
In their final match of the regular season, the Vols clinched the SEC East division with a 1-0 win over No. 9 South Carolina. Senior defender Wrenne French scored the lone goal of the night on a set piece. Sophomore Claudia Dipasupil kicked the ball in from the corner, and French finished it with a header for her first goal of the year.
“For Wrenne, that was a really special night,” Head Coach Brian Pensky said. “That was senior night. Our whole opportunity for a regular season championship was on the line. She scored the game winning goal on only the second of her career, and the first of the season for her. Really, really special moment.”
The win clinched the Vols’ first division title since 2005, and was also their first over South Carolina since 2007.
Since winning the Eastern division ten days ago, Tennessee has been recognized with a number of awards. For the first time this season, the Vols placed in the United Soccer Coaches top-15 national rankings, coming in at No. 13. UT has made at least one appearance in the national rankings in four consecutive seasons.
Several Tennessee players were honored as well. For her heroic senior night performance, French was named both the United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Week and the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, as well as earning a spot on the TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week.
Sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Romig was named an honorable mention on the TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week, after returning from injury and illness to shut out the league’s top scoring offense in South Carolina.
Two Volunteers received All-SEC honors, with junior Mackenzie George, who started all eight matches and ranked third on the team with 705 minutes played, making the All-SEC Second Team, and redshirt freshman Jaida Thomas, who led the team with three goals that each went down as game-winners in SEC East divisional play, named to the All-Freshman Team.
In the 2020 SEC Soccer Tournament bracket, the Vols currently sit in the quarterfinal round. They received a double-bye for winning their division. Vanderbilt, who Tennessee will face tomorrow, has won one match to make the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, the Commodores defeated the No. 10 seed Mississippi State to advance to the match with Tennessee. If the Vols win, they would advance to the semifinal round, where they would face either the No. 3 seed Texas A&M or No. 14 LSU. Tennessee lost to the Aggies 3-1 in October, and did not face LSU in the regular season.
If the Vols make the semifinals, they will play Thursday, Nov. 19 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Scouting the Commodores
Even though Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt 1-0 in overtime earlier in the year, the Commodores are still a team that can not be overlooked. They are fresh off a 4-0 victory over Mississippi State, which was their highest scoring output in an SEC Tournament match since scoring eight goals against Arkansas in 1997.
The Commodores have a high scoring offense, and while senior Haley Hopkins gets most of the recognition, they are still a balanced offensive threat. Vanderbilt scored 11 goals in 2020, with eight different players scoring a goal. In their match Sunday against Mississippi State, each of their four goals came from a different player.
One thing to watch on Tuesday is if Romig and the Tennessee backline can stop Vanderbilt’s balanced attack.
The Commodores also had several players receive All-SEC honors. Hopkins was named to the All-SEC First Team, Ella Shamburger and Maddie Elwell were named to the All-SEC Second Team and Abi Brighton made the All-Freshman Team.
“Obviously, we’re going to have our hands full tomorrow,” Pensky said. “However, I think our team feels pretty good about themselves and is excited to play tomorrow.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Alabama and will be broadcast on SEC Network.