highest ranking ever for team
Two important Southeastern Conference road victories have benefited Tennessee (7-2-2, 4-0-0 SEC) in this week’s national rankings as the Lady Vols rocketed up all four polls after a weekend in which the Orange & White ended both then-No. 8 Florida’s 36-match home SEC unbeaten streak (2-1, 2OT) and South Carolina’s five-match home winning skein (3-1). UT improved to seventh in the Soccertimes.com listing to equal the program’s highest ranking ever in any poll, while the Orange & White jumped five positions to 11th in Soccer America, rose from 19th to 13th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Adidas poll and climbed six spots to No. 21 in Soccer Buzz.
On two previous occasions, Tennessee has achieved seventh position in one of the national rankings. Following the program’s second consecutive SEC Tournament victory, UT rose to seventh in the Nov. 10, 2003, NSCAA/Adidas poll. Soccer Buzz tabbed the Orange & White at No. 7 after a 2-0 start to the 2003 campaign in the organization’s Sept. 1 listing.“We are excited about being ranked as high as seventh this week in the Soccertimes.com poll,” said Lady Vol Head Coach Angela Kelly. “As far as I’m concerned, rankings and polls are discretionary anyway. If we handle our business on the field and take the season one game at a time, the proper rankings will work themselves out at the end.”
BIG EAST Conference stalwart Notre Dame (12-0-0) continues to hold down the top spot in both the NSCAA/Adidas and Soccer America listings, while perennial national power North Carolina (10-0-1) of the Atlantic Coast Conference is the No. 1 squad according to Soccertimes.com and Soccer Buzz Magazine.
This weekend’s UT opponents, Arkansas (6-5-1, 2-1-1 SEC) and LSU (6-5-1, 1-2-1 SEC), are currently unranked by any of the four major polling organizations.Last weekend, Tennessee improved its SEC record to a program-best 4-0 with a 2-1, double-overtime road victory over then-No. 8 Florida (8-3-1, 2-2-0 SEC) and a 3-1 romp over the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6-1, 0-3-1 SEC).
The Lady Vols have won five straight matches to take the lead in the SEC Eastern Division over second-place squads Kentucky (5-5-1, 2-1-1 SEC) and Vanderbilt (3-5-2, 2-1-1 SEC). The 23rd-ranked Auburn Tigers lead the SEC Western Division at 3-0-1 and have a matchup in Auburn, Ala., against the Lady Vols scheduled for Friday, Oct. 22.
Following a first half goal by the Gators which granted UF an early 1-0 advantage, senior Kristin McGrath (Durango, Colo.) tied the contest off a feed from fellow senior Kayla Lockaby at the 52:53 mark. With time ticking down in the second sudden-victory overtime period, sophomore Ali Christoph (Columbus, Ohio) blasted a low shot that Florida goalkeeper Jen Gardner failed to control.
Lockaby, a 5’0” midfielder from Hamilton, Ohio, swooped in and deposited the loose rebound in the back of the net for her second career “golden goal” and an important 2-1, Lady Vol victory. On Sunday, Christoph, McGrath and senior Sue Flamini (Cranford, N.J.) each scored a goal to lead Tennessee to a 3-1 triumph over USC.