GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Tennessee soccer season came to an end Friday 3-1 in a penalty kick shootout loss to Washington State after a 2-2 tie in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Florida's Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
Washington State (10-7-4) took an early lead with a strike in the 13th minute, but Tennessee (15-4-2) answered with two goals by junior forward Danielle Marcano in a 10-minute span in the first half.
The Cougars tied the game late with defender Kelsee Crenshaw scoring with 11 minutes remaining in the second half. The game was still knotted at 2-2 after two overtime periods to force the deciding shootout.
The teams were tied 1-1 in the shootout before Washington State goalkeeper Ella Dederick came up with three consecutive saves to seal the shootout win, 3-1.
Tennessee's season ends with the team's first trip back to the NCAA tournament since 2012 and a regular spot in the top 25 of the national rankings. The Vols entered the tournament ranked No. 20 in the coaches poll and the RPI.
"The finality of the season being over is hitting our kids like a ton of bricks, and that's not fun," Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky said. "But soon they'll have the perspective to appreciate what an amazing season it was. As coaches, we will force that perspective on them. Today we showed the grit and guts we've displayed all season against a good Washington State team.
"The bar has been set by this group. They know and understand what it takes to be great, and that will be the standard and expectation year in and year out. A special thank you to seniors Ariel Kupritz and Michele Christy for the four and five years respectively they've poured themselves into this program. They will both be missed, on and off the field."
On Friday, Washington State struck first as Morgan Weaver laced a shot into the left side from outside the box off a pass from Maddy Haro in the 13th minute.
The Vols equalized the game in the 20th minute when redshirt sophomore Katie Cousins took a corner kick and Marcano headed the ball into the net. Ten minutes later, Marcano struck again. She evaded defenders down the left side and pulled goalkeeper Ella Dederick out of position before putting in her second goal of the game and fourth of the season.
Both teams played evenly in the second half, but Washington State equalized late. Kelsee Crenshaw scored from more than 20 yards out, lifting a shot into the top left hand corner out of the reach of goalkeeper Shae Yanez.
Yanez came up with two potentially game-saving diving stops in the last 10 minutes to preserve the tie.
In the shootout, Cousins stepped up with a clean shot to start for Tennessee, and Washington State's Maegan O'Neill answered on the next attempt. Washington State made its next two attempts, and Dederick saved the next three Tennessee shots to advance.
"We will take some time to physically emotionally digest, and recover from, the season," Pensky said. "It's always amazing how quickly it flies by. It feels like yesterday we were at Navy for our first game of the season.
"And then moving forward, our kids' hunger to take that next step will be the determining factor. It's all about hunger. Exactly one year ago yesterday we set the table as a team for what we wanted to accomplish this fall. All credit to our kids for accomplishing many of those goals. That mentality and drive will be exactly what leads to our fall 2018 accomplishments."
MULTI-GOAL MARCANO: Danielle Marcano had a multi-goal game for the second time in her career. She scored two goals as a freshman against Belmont (9/13/15). She has seven career goals, four coming this season and three in the last two games. She started the year on defense.
OVERTIME: Tennessee has played three overtime games this season. The team tied Auburn 1-1 and lost 1-0 to South Carolina. It was the team's fifth overtime NCAA tournament game, the last was a 3-2 overtime loss in the first round to Miami (Ohio) in 2012.
PENALTY KICK NOTES: It was Tennessee's third NCAA game decided by penalty kicks. The Vols lost to Duke in a shootout in 2001, and then beat the Blue Devils when the teams faced again in 2006.