September 30, 2007
KNOXVILLE – The 10th-ranked University of Tennessee women’s soccer team got two goals from junior forward Kylee Rossi to notch a 2-0 victory over No. 15 Florida at Regal Soccer Stadium on Sunday. The win improves the Lady Vols to 7-1-1 overall and 2-0-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
“Florida’s always our toughest competition in the SEC because there’s just such a strong rivalry there,” Rossi said.
Rossi continued her hot streak against Florida, repeating her 2006 performance with two goals against the Gators. The Pennington, N.J. native got started just five minutes into the match. The first goal came after a long pass from senior forward Erica Griffin found Rossi’s feet about 30 yards from the goal, drawing UF keeper Meghan Berlingo out. Rossi beat Berlingo to the ball, one-timing a volley over her and into the back of the net.
“It definitely helps a lot to score early because it puts a lot of pressure on the other team,” junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson said. “It gets them down early, but at the same we still have a whole game to play so you can’t get too excited on the one goal. You have to stay focused.”
In the 21st minute, Rossi struck again when sophomore midfielder Mick Imgram dished a ball to the left hand side of the box. Imgram found Rossi who beat her defender and put a ball on the ground past Berlingo into the lower right hand corner. The two goals give Rossi four on the season and eight game winners in her career, good for sixth all-time at UT.
With the two goals, Rossi has now been involved in every goal scored against Florida in the regular season during her career at UT. In a 2-1 win in 2005, Rossi assisted on both Lady Vol goals, while last season she was responsible for both scores in another 2-1 victory. Of her 55 career points, 10 have come at the expense of the Gators.
“I always try to put the ball away,” Rossi said. “It just so happens that I put two in last year and two in this year [against Florida]. My teammates supported me so much and got me the ball where I needed it and it just happened.”
Though UT got the win, Florida out-shot the Lady Vols 23-10, putting nearly half of their shots on frame. Junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson had a game of a lifetime in her fifth shutout of the season, making 11 saves to set a new career high. The 11 saves tie Johnson for the fourth-best performance by a keeper in Tennessee history. The Orange and White have now shutout five of the nine opponents they’ve faced, including three top 25 teams.
“I think I played great, but I have to come out and be ready every game. I can’t put one game over another,” Johnson said.
Leading the offense for the Gators were midfielders Ameera Abdullah and KeLeigh Hudson who took five shots apiece and combined for six shots on goal. Five of the Gators’ 10 field players who started the match took at least one shot on goal.
The match was very physical from the first whistle, with the two teams combining for 20 fouls. The Lady Vols finished the match with 12 total fouls and one yellow card to Rossi, while the Gators committed eight infractions with a yellow card handed out to defender Lauren Hyde.
The victory matches UT’s biggest win over Florida on Oct. 10, 2003 in Knoxville. The triumph gives Tennessee five straight victories over the Gators in regular season matches and six wins in their last nine meetings with UF. UT is now 4-0-1 against top 25 opponents this season, downing Penn State, South Carolina and Florida while they were all ranked in the top 15.
The Lady Vols will put their six-match unbeaten streak on the line this Friday when they travel to LSU for the first match of a four-game road trip. Kickoff on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT.
“There’s so much talent in this conference that we can never get complacent,” Head Coach Angela Kelly said. “I just told the team that they can enjoy this until 12 o’clock tonight and then the most important game is LSU next Friday night.”