UK women’s soccer fans filed into the Bell Soccer Complex and received vuvuzelas for the “Pack the Bell” promotion night. Fans hoped to see UK snap its four-game losing streak against No. 12 ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers. This wasn’t the result, however, as the Cats lost 3-1.
The Cats were without their starting goalkeeper, freshman Hannah Leonard. Leonard was given a red card on Sunday afternoon’s match at South Carolina, which suspended her from the rest of that match plus the entirety of Friday night’s match. Freshman Payton Woodward took Leonard’s place in the starting line-up.
“I’ve been working all season and pre-season for a chance to get out there,” Woodward said. “I knew as soon as she went out that I had to step in for my team and complete the role that she had been setting all season.”
Woodward ended the night with five saves.
Prior to Friday night’s match, the Lady Vols led the series against the Cats 14-12-1. Tennessee beat UK last season 3-0 in Knoxville. The last time UK beat Tennessee was in the 2014 SEC Tournament semifinals.
Both teams showed offensive promise during the first 15 minutes of the first half, moving the ball and creating shots.
UK showed fire and determination fueled by a few big defensive stops, physical play and a little extra motivational help from the active and loud crowd that was present in the stands.
Despite the three Tennessee goals, UK’s defense finally found their groove and the passion was finally present amongst them.
“We worked together on defense tonight,” Woodward said. “Like we’ve been talking about in practice, we stayed solid, stayed together and we know our roles.”
After holding the Lady Vols scoreless for nearly the entire first half, UT’s senior forward/midfielder Bunny Shaw scored in the 37th minute off an assist from junior forward/defender, Mary Vignola. This was Shaw’s fifth goal of the season.
With 12 seconds left in the first half, a UT junior forward took a promising shot, but Woodward tipped the ball out behind the goal for a crucial save, keeping the score 1-0 going into halftime.
In the 60th minute, Shaw would strike again off an assist from junior midfielder Katie Cousins and go on to score on a penalty kick in the 74th minute, making the score 3-0.
In the 86th minute, the Cats snapped their two-game scoreless streak. Sophomore midfielder Hollie Olding scored her fourth goal of the season, and UK’s first goal in SEC play this season, off an assist from freshman forward Abby Steiner. Olding was only in the game for a little over a minute prior to scoring, making 3-1 as the final score.
Next up for the Cats is trip to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama on Thursday, Oct. 4. Game time is set to start at 8 p.m. ET.