Staff Report: SPORTS

On Tuesday, Volunteer forward Jaida Thomas was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s team of the week following her hat trick that spanned just 15 minutes against Gardner Webb.

Thomas netted all three goals in the first half of Tennessee’s season opening 6-0 onslaught of Gardner Webb on Sunday. The first goal came at just the 11 minute mark when a loose ball rattled around the six yard box before it ended up at Thomas’ feet where she struck it past the goalie to double the Tennessee lead to 2-0.

Before you could go to the bathroom Thomas had yet another goal. At the 12 minute mark the Volunteers showed some elite passing from particularly Abby Burdette and Mackenzie George who played the ball on the ground, across the back line to a streaking Thomas who calmly netted her second goal.

“Because of practice we know our role as where we are supposed to be placed,” Thomas said following Sunday’s victory.

Thomas’ third goal to complete the hat trick came off of a corner kick. Gardner Webb was unable to clear the ball as it bounced out to Tennessee defenseman Tara Katz. Katz laid a soft ball over the Gardner Webb defense to find Thomas behind the back line where she has just the keeper to beat after a great first touch. Thomas was able to shoot it past the goalie into the bottom left corner of the goal to complete her lightning quick hat trick and give Tennessee a 4-0 lead at the time.

The Irving, Texas native led the Volunteers with three goals in the fall season, all of which were game winning goals. Her efforts were enough to earn her SEC Freshman of the Week twice, along with SEC All-Freshman honors in 2020.

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