ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Tennessee’s late-season run continues as UT won a shootout in the SEC Quarterfinals, knocking out No. 8 Florida. Cheyenne Spade scored the winning goal in penalty kicks, as No. 10 seed UT (10-9-2) outscored No. 2 seed Florida (14-4-1) 5-4, following a 1-1 tie in double overtime. Spade scored in the low right corner to put Tennessee ahead 5-4.
“I am so proud of our team,” Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky said. “I am a lucky guy. I have a bunch of resilient kids on our side. We got a quick goal and we just wanted to get into halftime 1-0 and we didn’t. We said at halftime that we were going to win this game. We have to find a way and dig. Our backs have been against the wall forever.
“I’m very fortunate to coach, I’m more fortunate to be a dad. If there’s anything I’d ever want my kids to have, it’s confidence. Our players, right now, their confidence is growing and it’s massive right now. They just believe and that’s why we won. It had nothing to do with strategy, it had nothing to do with tactics, it was all about guts. Our kids laid it out on the line and gave themselves a chance to win. We had a bunch of kids show some mettle and some fortitude on those PKs and we get to play again.”
|Tennessee||Kiah Allen||Goal, GK tips|
Tennessee will take on No. 3 seed Kentucky in the SEC Tournament semifinals on Friday. The game will mark the Volunteers’ first SEC Tournament semifinal appearance since 2011.
Florida had an 18-9 edge in shots and an 8-3 edge in corner kicks, but the Tennessee defense would not break late in regulation and in overtime. UT goalkeeper Jamie Simmons (10-9-2) posted five saves in the tie.
Tennessee struck first in the third minute when Michele Christy found Hannah Wilkinson on the right side and Wilkinson sent a perfect ball into the left side of the box for Spade. Spade took one shot at the goalkeeper Taylor Burke, who blocked it on the ground, and then knocked the rebound into the right side of the net. The goal was Spade’s eighth of the season.
UT had another good look in the box in the 17th minute when Amy Neal broke loose on a breakaway up the middle. Neal ran deep in to the box, beating a Florida defender, but her shot from 10 yards out went wide right.
Florida evened the game in the 44th minute when Annie Speese scored on assists from Savannah Jordan and Havana Solaun.
Tennessee came out of the break with a couple of early looks in or near the box. Anna McClung fired from about 30 yards out over the crossbar in the 50th minute. Off a Michele Christy corner kick in the 51st minute, Wilkinson had a diving header just outside the six-yard box but Burke made a diving save.