After a 2-0 homestand to start the season, the 11th ranked Tennessee soccer team goes on the road for the first time this weekend as the Lady Vols’ will travel north to face Rutgers University and Columbia University.
Tennessee will head to Piscataway, New Jersey Thursday night to face Rutgers in the 2019 road opener.
“We need to take the next couple days and get our bodies back and get rested,” head coach Brian Pensky said following the Lady Vols’ 3-0 win over Mercer Sunday. “It’s going to be a very good team Thursday night at Rutgers. It’ll be, I think, a great atmosphere. I think there will be a lot of fans there, which is awesome. They’ve got a beautiful stadium and it will be an awesome challenge for our kids.”
Rutgers will come into Thursday’s matchup 2-0 on the season. Surprisingly, Tennessee and Rutgers already share a common opponent on the season as both teams defeated Fordham. Rutgers defeated the Rams 5-0 while Tennessee took care of business winning 3-1.
Rutgers women’s soccer program has had significant success in recent years under head coach Mike O’Neal. The Scarlet Knights have made seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances including a trip to the Final Four in 2015.
Rutgers has some talented players on its team, but Amirah Ali has been a standout for the Scarlet Knights early on this season scoring three goals in the first two games.
While Rutgers isn’t currently ranked, they are fourth in receiving votes and should be a challenging road test for the Lady Vols.
Tennessee will travel 35 miles across state lines to New York City for the second half of the road trip as the Lady Vols will take on Columbia.
The Lions haven’t begun their season yet, but Pensky is impressed with the development of the program under head coach Tracy Bartholomew.
“Those guys are recruiting really well,” Pensky said. “They’re getting better and better every year and that’s going to be an equally tough challenge on Sunday.”
For Tennessee, the focus is on themselves and continuing to play high level soccer.
“We’re really excited and really ready,” MA Vignola said. “Our main focus this year is to be TT90. Together for all for 90 minutes and that’s what we’re going to focus on this trip.”
Kickoff between Tennessee and Rutgers is set for 7 p.m. Thursday. Columbia and Tennessee are scheduled to start a 1 p.m. Sunday in New York