Second seeded Tennessee’s season comes to a screeching halt following an action packed 4-2 SEC tournament loss to the seventh seeded Vanderbilt Commodores.
The quarter-final match was the second time the two sides have squared off this season with Vols emerging victorious with a 1-0 overtime win on Sept. 27.
The match opened with a hectic, back and forth pace with chances presenting themselves to both sides. The first quality chance of the game came on a breakaway for Vanderbilt forward Hailey Hopkins who was able to draw a foul and yellow card for Tennessee defender Mackenzie Ostrom.
Just minutes later following the free kick, Maddie Elwell was able to open up the scoring in the 8th minute. The Commodores connected on a cross that bounced around the center of the box before finding Elwell’s foot who was able to win the ball from Vols defender Abbey Burdette and eventually score past Tennessee keeper Lindsey Romig.
Vanderbilt continued to keep the pressure on the Vols as it dominated possession before earning a corner in the 18th minute. Vanderbilt played a short corner and worked the ball to the top of the box where Blue Ellis ripped a shot that ricocheted right to senior forward/midfielder Leila Azari who was able to convert on the doorstep of the goal and give Vandy a 2-0 lead.
With the gap widening, Tennessee upped the pressure and found an answer quickly. In the 25th minute, just seven minutes after Vanderbilt extended their lead, Mackenzie George was able to supply the spark the Vols needed with a spectacular goal. George possessed the ball just outside the six yard box, turned with possession, and ripped a shot that rebounded off a Commodore defender and trickled into the goal to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Tennessee nearly evened the score minutes later when Claudia Dipasupil was able to find Jaida Thomas at the top of the box, but was denied by a nice save from the Vanderbilt netminder.
The second half began and the majority of the half was controlled by the Commodores. They were able to control possession and move up through the Vols’ half and continuously create chances. In the first 30 minutes of the second half, Vanderbilt was able to outshoot Tennessee 5-0.
In the 58th minute, Vols senior midfielder Erin Gilroy was called for a foul in the box, resulting in penalty kick coming off a long Vanderbilt throw into the penalty area. Romig guessed incorrectly and Vanderbilt sophomore Kimya Raietparvar was calmly able to bury the penalty shot in the left side of the net to extend the lead back to two for the Commodores.
In the 72nd minute, Vanderbilt was able to score off yet another set piece to effectively put the game out of reach. Following a foul in the midfield, Commodores keeper Sarah Fuller played a perfect ball over everybody on the field to midfielder Raegen Kelly who took one touch to put the 50/50 ball past Tennessee’s Romig.
The Vols did not quit as George scored her second goal of the game with a spectacular left footed shot in the 85th minute to cut the score to 4-2, but it was not enough to avoid defeat.
Tennessee, the SEC East division champions, finish the season with a record of 4-4-1 and will return SEC All-freshman team member Jaida Thomas and All-SEC second team award winner Mackenzie George.