After dropping their first game of the 2019 season last week, the Tennessee soccer team returns home Thursday to face Southeastern Louisiana at Regal Stadium.
The 20th ranked Lady Vols are returning from their first road trip of the season that saw Tennessee drop its first game of the season to No. 21 Rutgers before defeating Columbia 3-0 to improve to 4-1 overall.
“Rutgers was a good team picked to finish second in the Big Ten,” head coach Brian Pensky said. “I said it to my coaching staff after the game: ‘That’s probably a top four SEC team.’ It’s exactly what we needed … But we learned some things and we have to continue to look for ways to make us dangerous in the attack and protect ourselves against the counter attack.”
“We’re just trying to become more competitive as a team,” senior Katie Cousins added. “We’re just trying to win, honestly, and be more competitive.”
A new week brings a new challenge, and that starts Thursday for the Lady Vols as head coach Christopher McBride brings his Southeastern Louisiana Lions team to Knoxville.
The Lions come into the match-up with a 1-1-1 record, their only loss being a 1-0 decision at the hands of Louisiana Tech.
“They return some goal scorers from last year and have a couple freshmen that have already gotten some goals and assists,” Pensky said. “They got some athletic kids up front. Kids that want to run with the ball and penetrate out of the back. We’ve got to respect them. We have to respect every opponent because on any given day anybody can bite you in the tail.”
One of those talented freshman is Ellie Williams, a 5'3" forward from Frisco, Texas. Williams has started her collegiate career with a bang, scoring or assisting on three of the Lions’ five goals this season.
“She’s athletic. She’s fast,” Pensky said. “She likes to come and get the ball at times and turn and face up and run at teams. She can find her wingers from behind or she can run in behind herself. She’s got a nice little combination of comfort on the ball and can run in behind the back line. Our center backs are going to have to be on point.”
Similarly to Tennessee, Southeastern Louisiana is a strong defensive team. The Lions have allowed just two goals this season and held Louisiana Tech, a team that averages just shy of five goals a game, to one goal in their season opening loss.
Kickoff at Regal Stadium is set for 7 p.m.